Monday, September 30, 2019

"I've Seen The Future and I'm Not Going" by Peter McGough (Pantheon)

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4704-6

I'm fascinated with Dandies, either from the past or contemporary times.  McDermott & McGough are two artists that work as one, and their aesthetic is very much ignoring the 21st century and most of the 20th as well.  I'm an admirer of their paintings as well as their obsession with the Victorian lifestyle.  Extremism, as a choice has always fascinated me as well.   By chance, I came upon Peter McGough's memoir, and it's a great piece of literature that places one in the world of New York City circa the 1980s and 1990s.  I knew very little of their lives, and like Gilbert & George, the other art duo, their lives were an exciting mystery to me.  The more I don't know about them, the more I find attractive.  Still, this memoir is also about the art planet of that era, and McGough is an excellent and very straight forward prose stylist.   A delicate and sometimes disturbing narrative, but once I finished the book, the mystery now exposed, is also put me in a state of admiring the duo much more.  Although one can point a finger against McDermott in certain aspects of their lives together, it is also a vibrant life.  "I've Seen the Future and I'm Not Going" is a great companion piece to Duncan Hannah's "20th Century Boy, which is a flip of a coin.  Soho, New York life, comes back to life (in print) and it's a scary but profound journey. 

Tosh's Journal - September 30 (Japan Airlines, Shintaro Ishihara, & Marc...


September 30

I will be leaving my home, or I should say running off from my current location. I’m the type of guy who throws his hat on the bed, and that becomes my pad. But now, at my advancing age, this will most likely be my last trip… of any kind. Nevertheless, I have to keep a brave face on and not let the others down. I have always looked for a paradise, and most would like to say an island such as Hawaii or Tahiti fits that bill, but for me, it will always be Asakusa. Not an island, by itself mind you, but part of the more significant island that is Japan. Or perhaps the island that is my mind.

The airline I’m taking is Japan Airlines, where once you enter, you must take your shoes off. The entire plane has a series of tatami mats, and of course, you can only wear socks on the material that is rice straw. Once you get your seat, the stewardess offers you a hot towel to wipe your hands and neck. Once you finish refreshing oneself, you then get a foot massage from them as well. It lasts maybe only three minutes, but it’s a gentle introduction to the mysterious Orient. And one hasn’t even taken off to the heavenly blue skies.

I have high friends in high places. One is being a gentleman by the name of Shintaro Ishihara. A writer who specializes in the subject matter of the Japanese sun tribe of the late 1950s. Not the first rebellious youth movement, but surely the most nihilistic group of young Japanese boys and girls who love and live for the beach culture. He eventually made a sharp right-hand turn and became the mayor of Tokyo. Due to his reputation and fame, we in the past have met in secretly at a bar in Shinjuku.   The bar is located on the top floor of a sushi boat place that is on the floor level. It’s an odd bar that only plays the music of Marc Bolan’s first band Tyrannosaurus Rex. What makes this place even more curious, is that they mostly have photographs of Steve Took (the bongo player) than Bolan on its walls.  That is here and there, and I’m sitting on the plane reading Truman Capote’s horrible novel “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and having a glass of cold sake.

Many hours later, the plane of no hope arrives at Narita, where I decided to take an airport bus to a hotel in Meguro, Tokyo. One hour and a half I’m in the middle of a hotel lobby looking forward to getting a room. I think my adventure will start now, but who knows, I can’t predict what will happen. I’m just a writer, you know. -Tosh Berman

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 29 (Chivalry Code)


September 29

As a writer, a publisher, a poet, and a lover, I very much follow the ancient code of honor, which is:

1 Believe the Church’s teachings and observe all the Church’s directions.

 2 Defend the Church.

 3 Respect and defend all weaknesses.

 4 Love your country.

 5 Show no mercy to the Infidel. Do not hesitate to make war with them.

 6 Perform all your feudal duties as long as they do not conflict with the laws of God.

 7 Never lie or go back on one’s word.

 8 Be generous to everyone.

 9 Always and everywhere be right and good against evil and injustice

In a complex and dark world, I find this code simplifies things that make me function better as a human being. For the past year, I have read nothing but books that deal with the chivalry code, for instance, “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.” A very long novel, but a work that I enjoyed much while in the bathtub. It was sometime during finishing the last page of the book and draining the tub’s water that I decided to take a trip, to express the code that I believe is essential for modern life.

I emptied my bank account and some others, to purchase a one-way ticket to Tokyo, to bring the code to the citizens of Edo. I intend to penetrate the Floating World by participating in various activities in the area, but alas, with a serious message. Every culture has two sides of the coin, and the opposite of that coin is Sorrowful World. With the lightness of my touch, I’ll bring enlightenment to the masses and therefore hope will once again regain its stature against the hopeless.

All I have is my faith in the code because there is no going back. I mustn’t look back, because the past is right behind, and my steely eyes must go forward, to the present and even beyond the entrance of the future. When I wrote my book “Drugstore Cowboy,” I was on the lam from the law. Once they caught up and sentenced me to prison, I arranged for a publisher to publish it, and even though I’m a forgotten man, the book lives on. Now that I’m released I feel I have a second chance to make things right. There is wrong, and I know that world quite well. Now that I have cut everything off, including friends that I never really had, I’m free to roam for chivalry. You may look like a windmill, but surely the devil lives inside.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 28 (Brigitte Bardot)

September 28

I only like film stars who are good looking. As Vernon Sullivan once said, “To hell with the ugly.” I don’t pay money to see ugly people showing their real life. I prefer the world of make-believe, where beauty exists over anything ugly. For me, the make-believe is real. I don’t understand how anyone can say that they prefer ugliness when they can have beauty in their lives. I was four-years-old when I saw my first movie in a movie theater. The film was “And God Created Woman,” and it was playing at the local movie theater in Larkspur California. It was a dramatic event for me because my father and mother had to argue with the theater’s manager about letting me in to see the film. At the time, it was “adults only,” but my father clearly wanted to see the movie, and he had me with him that night, and it was a family gathering, so what’s the problem? I remember he refused to leave the line or the box-office, and finally the manager caved in to his demand that I can see the film at his theater.

Being in a movie theater was a new experience, and I remember being struck with the largeness of the movie screen. I have no memory of the film’s plot at the time of the showing, but what I clearly remember is the image of Brigitte Bardot on the giant screen. At the time, living in a rural area of Larkspur, I could identify with the figures in the film. Not so much the men, but Bardot. I identified with her boredom and her naturalness in the way she dressed and expressed herself in the film. I cannot recall if the movie was dubbed or had sub-titles, it didn’t make a difference to me, because due to my youth, I couldn’t understand the story. I only realized the image of Bardot.

Besides my mom, who is an iconic beauty, the other woman in my life is Bardot. Not by my choice, but my father always had an image of her on the wall - usually in his work-space or studio. The pictures I remember being on the wall were Artaud, Cocteau, Nijinsky, and Bardot. I didn’t know any of these people, but I did know their names and faces. I knew one was a dancer, and it seems Cocteau did a bit of everything, and Artaud looked insane. But Bardot, I did know. Also, I remember in the household we had a book of photographs of Brigitte Bardot. It’s odd for the home, because we had books with words, and books on painting or beautiful photography - but never a book on an actress. I don’t remember any text in this book. Just one image after another of Bardot. This was in the late 1950s, so the photos were mostly when she was a teenager to her stardom in “And God Created Woman.”

Since I wasn’t reading the text yet at a premature age, I did love books. And my favorite book was the book of photographs of Bardot. My attraction to her was her beauty. I knew nothing of her life, and I did know she came somewhere not in the United States. I was most impressed with the images of her walking down a sunny street. I knew wherever the photos were taken; it must have been warm. She is wearing shorts, sunglasses and no shoes. Viewing these images, I could feel the warm weather even though it was cold and gray in Larkspur.

As of this date, she is 85, and I’m 65 this year. Twenty years apart. When I turned 20, she was still 39. I could have dated her! But the truth is our lives are just so distant from each other. It is funny how my life is still very close to the “ideal” of Bardot. Like my father, I have a photograph of her on my work-space, and later in life, I published a short piece of fiction by her one-time boyfriend Serge Gainsbourg, as well as a biography (written by Gilles Verlant) on the great composer and entertainer. Even though I never met her or yet seen her in person, I feel very close to her presence or image. She strikes me as a person who made her world, over some time. There is ugliness, but not by her design. Like a film editor, she accepted certain practices and images, and eliminated or left what she didn’t want on the film editor’s floor. The beauty of reflection is living in a world where ugliness is held back.  My memories are as pure as the sunshine somewhere in the South of France.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 27 (Alvin Stardust & Jim Thompson)


September 27

I’m a moody guy. I play with an identity as a cat plays with a mouse before eating it. As a performer, you have to take what is out there and make it your own. My real name is Tosh Berman, and I used to be a roadie for a band called “Shane Fenton and the Fentones.” Shane and the boys made a demo and sent it off to the BBC. Just right before they got accepted by the media giant, Shane died as a result of the rheumatic fever he had suffered in childhood. The band was about to split up, but I told them, “no, I can be Shane.” And so I did and joined the group not as Tosh, but as Shane Fenton. The first song we recorded became a hit called “I’m a Moody Guy.” After that, I never looked back. I just recently took up the name “Tosh Berman” to be a writer. I believe that name is suitable for a writer’s name. As a singer, Tosh doesn’t jell in my, or in the public’s mind.

I’m a so-so singer, but my main musical talent is as a pianist. My number one role model for that instrument is Bud Powell. An incredible composer as well, but I like how he takes a song and tears it apart and puts it back together again. The Fentones don’t do jazz or blues, but rock n’ roll. That music, to be honest, I’  ’m not that crazy about.

Nevertheless, I discovered numerous jazz recordings while on tour. I tend to like to go off by myself and visit the local record shops of towns that we visited for shows. It was around this time that I started to think I could have another music career or identity. After finishing the tour with the Fentones, I left the band and took up the name “Bud Powell the Third”.

Once I take up a new name or identity, I never allow people around me call me by my previous names. At this point, I was Bud, and like the original Bud Powell, I took up drinking. It has been reported that a single drink could change Powell into a remorseful figure. It didn’t affect me the same way, but I pretended to be drunk after the first drink. To get into the artist’s mindset, I felt it was crucial to adapt not only their musical talents, but also their habits as well. It took me 12-months to change my identity and be recognized as a jazz pianist. I even signed with Blue Note Records and put out a series of albums: “Bud Powell the Third,” More of Bud Powell the Third,” and so forth.

Critics and some of the public were down with me for taking up the name of such a classic musician, but I think they misunderstood my purpose here. There’s a need or vacancy, and I feel my role in life is to fill the void. My skills as a pianist are pretty good, but not as great as the original Bud. Still, if my work brings attention to the master, am I doing such a bad thing? I roam east 53rd street where the jazz clubs used to be. Now there is nothing there but huge buildings. Culture, or the urban life, is set out to destroy the original locations, and therefore I feel I must take a stand and re-invent a world that goes back to Bud or even my late friend Shane.

Now, it is time for me to give up music and focus on writing. I have a hard time making up narratives, so I started to focus on the books by Jim Thompson. He knew how to tell the tale. So basically I took his novels like my own. I changed a word here and there, but I somewhat made the books of my own. Of all my novels, I’m quite fond of “The Killer Inside Me.” Thompson’s father was a sheriff in Caddo County, Oklahoma. While “writing” my novels, I moved to the country to get closer to the source of Thompson’s life. Like Powell, I took up drinking again, but this time, my role model was Thompson. Without a doubt, people are confused with the name “Tosh Berman” who writes Jim Thompson’s books. There is no valid reason why I do this, except that inspiration works in strange ways. Sometimes it is done by chance, and other times it is planned out like a military exercise. Nevertheless, I remain truly myself in a world of illusion. - Tosh Berman

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 26 (T.S. Eliot, Martin Heidegger, & Bryan Ferry)


September 26

When I wake up in the morning, I have the taste of fear in my mouth. "I will show you fear in a handful of dust." I sometimes feel like I have no teeth, and my tongue is not part of my mouth. I can never get out of bed quickly. I need at least ten minutes to think where I am, and what my purpose here in life is or in this house. "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." One…Two…Three, that's enough for now. I never was a fan of strong coffee. In actuality, I always prefer the coffee served in diners. What I like about it is that it's not precious. It is something to drink while you concentrate on something else. Or I should say, I'm just focusing on the space between objects. "To think is to confine yourself to a single thought that one day stands still like a star in the world's sky."

I reflect on the moments passing as if I was dancing with my shadow. I have a fear of moments of not being noted or paid attention to. When I look back, it is always the direction of my past. If I look forward, I'm deeply into the present. The future is the entrance of my door. "If you haven't the strength to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it offers you." Yet, I stand very still while stirring my coffee in the morning.

There is something that I want, but I can't have it. "Longing is the agony of the nearness of the distant." I had some money, but now I don't. "Part of the money went on gambling, and part of it went on women. The rest I spent foolishly." I tend to live in the moment, but alas, does that moment love me? The indifference of the world, or time passing, I really can't recall a moment when I first realized that I love you. Or at the very least, the thought of loving you. "I like having a secret life." "I've had quite a few moments I've liked, so it's good enough." So what I have I should keep, and then perhaps I can recall it back again, like an old friend who never lets me down.

Only in the middle of the night, and I start having my dreams, that I realize that I plenty to fear. All my defense mechanisms are down and being repaired by the time I wake up in the morning. But when I do wake up suddenly from a dream, or nightmare, it is the worst feeling of dread. There are two lives. One is here, writing to you, and the other is when I lose myself in a dream, and I can't control the images and people that invade my life with my eyes closed. I have awoken to see shadows briefly go by me, and I'm never sure if it is a part of the dream, or perhaps I'm indeed not alone in this world. There is a bridge between dream and awaken life.   But due to my vertigo, I don't want to look down. The bridge is just a high wire, and my balance is rather unfortunate. One thing that soothes my soul is music. "I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise." "You can never get silence anywhere nowadays, have you noticed?"

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 25 (Glenn Gould)


September 25

I mostly spend my time comparing the two versions of Glenn Gould’s “Goldberg Variations.” The first version in which he recorded in 1955 is perfection.

Johann Gottlieb Goldberg was a fantastic harpsichordist, who was fortunate enough to have J.S. Bach write the Goldberg Variations, which was written explicitly for Goldberg to perform for Hermann Karl von Keyserlingk, then the Russian ambassador to Saxony around 1737. Count Keyserlingk had trouble sleeping so to be entertained in the late hours, Goldberg would perform the Bach composition for him. Oddly enough, due that Keyserlingk paid for the pieces, he always insisted to Goldberg to “play his variations.”

Just before Glenn Gould passed away in 1982, he did a new recording of the Goldberg Variations. Gould studied and learned this piece entirely without his teacher. He instinctively knew that he had to slow down the work. What is interesting is that he commented that “the mental imagery involved with pianistic tactile is not related to the striking of individual keys but rather to the rites of passage between notes.”

Not a musician, but a brilliant filmmaker Robert Bresson wrote excellent advice in that “the most ordinary word, when put into place, suddenly acquires brilliance. That is the brilliance with which your images must shine.”

Concerning the second and much later recording, Gould felt that the initial recording of the piece was too much of a pianistic affectation. It needed a more introspective interpretation that included more calculated phrasing and ornamentation. What is fascinating that he could look at his work on the Goldberg Variations, and willing to take and accept the time difference, yet, he is still working on it.

“I believe that the justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of a-dren-a-lean but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”

Going back to Gould, he makes a useful comment: “I detest audiences - not in their individual components, but en masse I detest audiences. I think they’re a force of evil. It seems to me the rule of mob law.”

What appeals to me regarding the two versions of the Goldberg Variations is that he takes his past and makes something new out of it. The past is still there, but he added either a footnote or a different work, based on one’s history. William Faulkner wrote that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

For me to hear both versions, it strikes me as being very moving to listen to a work that is one of youth. Both Gould and Goldberg were young, when first coming to the Variations, and Gould’s late recording which may or may not be his last official recording. Two bookends make a life profound with a narrative that begins, has a middle, and then an end. Goldberg had an audience of one with the Count, but I often think of Gould performing not for an audience, but his own listening pleasure as well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 24 (Anthony Newley, F. Scott Fitzgerald, & Ze...


September 24

With respect to Hollywood, “it’s only a village, you know. Village life around the pump.” Everyone knows each other, and even those who don’t know, do know. I like it that way because I find the illusion of life more satisfying than what I see in the mirror. Of course, living in London and New York, I chose to go west, as the saying goes “go west young man.” The thing is I’m not that young anymore, and more likely if I can’t sell my writing or this script thing, I will suffer greatly. And my name is associated with failure, at least that is the way I’m thought of in London and New York. I threw the dice and came up with the wrong numbers continuously. So here I’m pumping my gas in a car that I can barely drive.

What was I thinking of when I married Zelda? An incredible fuck, and a highly talented woman, who couldn’t stay focused on the things in front of her. I wouldn’t say she was my muse because I don’t believe that there is a “fairy” out there that chooses one to write or create with inspiration. No, her contributions to my work are one of as a critic and knew when I was bullshitting myself. Every writer needs an audience of some sort or someone who can look at your work and say “sucks” or “brilliant” - and you know that he or she is going to tell you the truth. I accepted my wife in that light, as well as being in love with her.   Or at least, I like the idea of being in love with Zelda. As metal turns to rust, my love or appreciation was tested when I became a caretaker for her, and therefore here I’m in Hollywood trying to fit into the machine that produces popular culture. I think I pretty much did my best writing already, so now I’m trying to work to survive and pay the bills. I do love the cinema, but I wonder if that is a hindrance in writing a script these days. I’m much older than everyone else, and when I go to the local Starbucks, I see a group of young men with caps worn backwards, struggling with words in a script format. If I had t re-live my youth again, “I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.”

At the moment, I’m writing a script for an entertainer I met in London, and there is a (very) slight chance we can make this into a limited TV series for AMC. “The Strange World of Gurney Slade” is about a guy who is trapped in a TV series, and he can’t escape from it. I wrote six episodes so far, and I think that is all that is needed. Everyone I talk to in the business says they’re “excited” about this project. I, on the other hand, have been disappointed so many times.  I take this on the chin and keep going. The lead character is heroic, but as a fellow writer once commented: “Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.”

I really shouldn’t fool myself. The end is near. If I squint my eyes towards the horizon, I can see it rearing its head over the vanishing line, trying to lure me into a trap. At the very least, if one is a good shopper, you can find some of my books in the remainder bin. I did my best, and the most lucid moments in my life are when I held a pen and put it onto paper. Beyond that, it was drinking and arguing with my wife. I have no regrets. “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”

Monday, September 23, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 23 (Brutes & The Scarlet Pimpernel)


September 23

I loathe brutes. I’m not a fan of the brute male type at all. I think all men need to be feminine and rely on wit, a sense of proper fashion, and always be brave when danger arrives at their doorstep. What is truly a turn-off is brutish men who cry and seek assistance. If there is one thing that turns my stomach inside out, is the masculine voice crying out for understanding and sympathy. My first reaction is to reach out for a whip, and not touch them with the tool of my trade, but make them think that there is more significant pain out there, and one needs to be tough to cope with it. In most cases, they whimper more.

Due to circumstances that are obvious to any person who is under a brain, I had to take up another identity to fight these characters who have no backbone or principals. The first thing I did was organize a Members of the League, who worked in total secrecy and only answer to me. The members of excellent standing are Pinkie, Dallow, Cubitt, Spicer, and Rose. We meet once a week at various locations in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. Mostly on the property that was once the Coffee Table. I had the business torn down and kept the basement, which has secret steps, hidden from the street level, leading to the dungeon. I call the meeting in order by reciting a poem that I wrote:

“We seek him here, we seek him there,

Those masculine thugs seek him everywhere.

Is he in heaven? - Is he in hell?

That damned, elusive Pimpernel.”

The Pimpernel is a small plant, with creeping stems and flat five-petaled flower. That is the reason why I limit the membership to the League to five. The stems start from the flower but eventually will grow on to attract others in our battle against the brute. I want everything to be attached to the flower itself. A flower is a wisp of a life that survives in a cruel world, and with the Pimpernel as its image, we strike back. We will destroy the brute. Wherever he may decide to live or roam, we’ll be there to suck the air out of his lungs. - Tosh Berman

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 22 (Anna Karina, with Maurice Blanchot & Erich...


September 22

When I think of the name “Anna Karina” it brings up images of her former husband Jean-Luc Godard, but when I see a picture of her, I only think of her. I’m crazy about her. “At the moment everything was being destroyed she had created that which was most difficult: she had not drawn something out of nothing (a meaningless act), but given to nothing, in its form of nothing, the form of something.” I never fully understand the meaning of a beautiful woman as it is defined in words. Do they mean she’s pretty? I’m struck by her character, or maybe the words she says through various writers and directors. I never think of Godard as being beautiful, but when I see Karina in his films, I think she’s “beautiful.”

“I could not work with a girl who did not have a spiritual quality.” Throughout my life, I tried to find my own Anna Karina, but my lack of spirituality held me back to see the happiness that is owed me. The very image of love, I couldn’t define in words, so it became a sense of nothingness. I needed a name attached to it, to give me some meaning. “Anna Karina” represents a sea of mixed passions that as a fisherman, I have to throw a line out there, and see what bites. I watched her watching Renée Jeanne Falconetti on a movie screen that, for me, reflects on attaching an identity to another. To be so vulnerable, and to pick up on another person’s pain, is the precise definition of my unhappiness.

“We can’t do anything with an object that has no name.” But once we attach a name to it, or her, it becomes something painful. I have a faint memory of seeing a film that was 10 hours long called “Greed.” I sat through the whole movie at the Cinémathèque Française, and I couldn’t move from my fold-up chair as I watched it on the Steenbeck. The images flickered in front of me as I cringed in knowing what will happen to the leading characters. Only 12 people have seen the extended version of this film, and if we were on trial, we would find the film’s director, Erich von Stroheim, not guilty, for destroying his film. If for nothing else, the time melts in front of you, but ironically enough, most people comment how long the film is, without giving merit or praise (deservedly so) to the work on hand. It is now destroyed.

It has been re-constructed into a version that is almost like the 10-hour film. Alas, it is only a mirror image of the work. The exquisite face of ZaSu Pitts still exists, in scenes and stills, but like my memory, it’s fading fast. Anna Karina stays with me because I presume I know her through the films. Especially the ones she did with Godard. But again, it is mainly reflected through the eyes of her ex-husband. Therefore is that a ‘realistic’ knowledge of Karina? As a publisher, I want to make a book that is nothing but close-up images of Anna Karina. No text, and not even a title or copyright page. Words fail the image. Just a mass-market designed book that holds the image of the greatest treasure on earth - Anna Karina.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 21 (Henri Bergson & Sex)


September 21

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” When I think of my past, I immediately get an erection. The only thing I care to remember is my series of sexual conquests. Everything else is not essential. I used to know the names of my conquests, but now, all I can remember are their bodies, face, and intelligence. I was never a big fan of names because I have a hard time connecting something verbally to a face. It’s uncommon for a writer to admit this, but the visual image is far more important to me than the vocabulary. I think back to countless women I have touched, both in the literal and spiritual sense, and every one of them offered me great pleasure, that can’t be recorded by words on a page.

When I close my eyes, it is like being in H. G. Wells’ Time Machine, where I set the dials to a specific time and place, and go there. I can visit ancient civilization or the pre-war Paris years, by just imagining what it would be just like. I don’t need to be there, but just knowing a few names, for instance, Boris Vian, Juliette Gréco and of that sort, I already have a place and time in mind. So my time machine is me closing my eyes and transporting myself to that world. My sexual time-travelling sort of works the same. Some are real memories of actual fuck sessions, and others are “imagined” get-togethers where I focus on a beauty of my choice.

There is a secret club, only for men of a certain age, that I belong to called “Gas, Grass, & Ass,” where we discuss our sexual conquests among ourselves. It’s rude to discuss these things in an open forum or even in public, but within this club, we can freely discuss in detail our sexual adventures. The one rule is the fact that we never mention the name of the woman, or give any personal background on her, except what she is like in bed, and after all, we are gentlemen of a certain age and time.

One of the things we like to talk about is if we were in, or had the use of a Time Machine, who would we revisit for sexual pleasure. The irony is that this club only focuses on the past.  So in a sense, I’m in a room full of men who live in or for the past. Some say one cannot live in the past, but I think we all know that is not exactly true. The present only exists because there is a past.   How we perceive that “past” is how we see our present. The future we never know.

“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.” The one thing we all agree with is that each woman has her particular scent. I commented that I had a fantasy of sitting in a room blindfolded and the women that I share intimacy with comes in. I identify each one by their natural sexual scent. To be wrong, would be fatal! Nevertheless, it is interesting that all of us men at the club have a highly sense of smell, and that it’s a big part of our sexuality or desire. When I get home from our weekly meetings, I feel exhausted — drained even. The only thing that makes any sense to me is that “the pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already a memory.”

Friday, September 20, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 20 (Love[sex]Dolls)

September 20

There’s a hotel in Echo Park that I go to, and it is called “The Hotel for Lost Men.” This hotel is made for middle-aged men, to dwell in a passion where no one is watching or making demands on them. It is based on a series of ‘love’ hotels in Osaka, Japan, but this one has a twist. What you get is a room, but also a sex doll. And this is not just any sex doll, but one that if you touch it, you swear it’s human skin, and even the eyes look real. A unique blend of high-quality silicone has been applied to create the doll. Each doll is made with a skeletal structure. Their skin is “soft to the touch, and the doll’s breasts have been modified to enable a softer, more realistic touch and feel.”

I go to this hotel because by nature; I’m a shy man. Also, I don’t require a relationship because I find them annoying. If I wish to relate to another person or girl, I can do that easily with my post office clerk, or the young girl behind the counter at Starbucks. Human communication or one-on-one, of course, is essential for some, but for me, all my inner-thoughts are enough. I never feel lonely. I don’t desire companionship. I don’t want heart-to-heart conversation; I desire to stick my penis in a doll.

With that in mind, “The Hotel for Lost Men” is on a side-street, in the hills of Echo Park. The structure looks like housing from Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the 7 Drawfs, and in fact, it is suspected that Disney built these structures for his workers, due that his studio was close to these homes. Once you walk in, you are in the lobby, where you can see the various dolls. For instance, there is a doll who dresses like a hotel receptionist, and you can go up to her and order a doll and room. There is a giant menu which lists all the girl dolls, with photographs of course, and a picture of the room as well. Prices are listed as well as if you want to rest (two to three hours) or spend the night. There are various types of rooms one can order. Some are over-the-top, like “Sade’s bedroom,” or “Mustang Ranch Fantasy,” and so forth. I chose “Nightporter” room and requested Sarina, a doll that reminds me of an early girlfriend I had in Taft High School. It takes them about ten minutes to secure the doll as well as the room. I never see a live worker on the premise. Every transaction is done through the hotel receptionist, whom I mention being a sex doll as well.

The Nightporter room is based on the film and is a large room with six or seven hospital beds. Sarina was on one of the beds dressed in a black sweater and an off-white dress with a shirt collar. My high school sweetheart used to wear the same dress, and one of the wonderful things about this hotel is that you can custom made your dolls to whatever specific clothing or hair or eye color. The girls look real, and I have never seen a dead girl before, but I imagine that this is the closest one can get to a dead girl.

When you touch Sarina, she feels real, but no sign of life. Intellectually it is hard for me to penetrate a doll, but once I get in a mindset, I’m fine. I’m obsessed with my ageing, and, interestingly, this hotel caters to men in my age bracket, and I’m not sure why? But what is interesting is that I physically age, but the dolls look precisely the same. Of course, they do not age, and they remind one of the time being stopped, or perhaps a memory that one freeze, so one can observe over and over again. After each encounter, one is responsible for cleaning up the doll, and in the drawer, they have assorted cleaning tools. One would think since I’m a paying customer, would leave the dolls dirty, but I can’t do that. Not thinking about the next guy, but more out of respect for the doll, and the pleasure she gave me, or is it more about the joy I give myself?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 19 (Brian Epstein & The Beatles)

TOSH’S JOURNAL (Brian Epstein & The Beatles)

September 19

“I am determined to go through the horror of this world.” I don’t throw the dice, and I pretty much map out the plans on a massive desk in my office. I have four men in my office at this moment, and they are wearing leather jackets with button-up Levis and motorcycle boots. I don’t know if I should french-kiss each one, or dress them up for a party. Nevertheless, art-making and doing business is very well the same thing. John and George are, without a doubt the hottest here, and both are sort of emotionally damaged. Not sure why, more likely due to the loss of a family member, or just not fitting in the world. This is something that I totally understand, being left out in the world. I have been an outcast for my whole life, and I live in a world that hates me. So, I either drown in self-pity or make my own world. I have four young men here that will make a new world, for you, and without a doubt for me as well.

When I look back, I must have been dreaming. I was led into a cave, somewhere in Damn Liverpool, and I came upon a vision that hit me right away. I usually have doubts or have to re-think it, but here, was something that came upon me in a technicolour fashion, but clearly in a black and white world. It reminded me when I first went to London by myself, and I picked up on a beautiful man, who was rough on the edges, and eventually punched me out, and took all my cash as well as my watch, that my father gave me, for being such a good salesperson in our family business. It wasn’t a downer for me, it made me feel alive, and I was placed in a dangerous world, that I secretly have been craving for a long time.

I remember going into the cave and realizing that there was not an exit. I immediately felt the change in my life as soon as I enter the entrance opening. The heat was the first sensual overload, and it was like if I was going back to the womb, but not my mothers, but someone else’s uterus. A male version if there is such a thing. It wasn’t the audience that appealed to my senses but seeing four drunken musicians on the stage, that reminded me of the chap who punched me out and took my dole.

Before that, I just wanted to study acting, but my father was against that plan. He wanted me to work in the family business, and with half a heart, I did so. I eventually went to drama school, but I realize I hated school life. At the time, it was bad as my world but much smaller, and therefore I felt I couldn’t breathe in that environment. I then realize that I can be a performer, but I needed the right medium to work with. What I wanted to do was re-shape the horrible world and somehow make it into a better place I was ill in my stomach thinking of all the lies that I had to put up with. Here in front of me, is one way out, a new honesty at work, that will change mine as well as your life. John, George, Paul and….. Pete. That last name doesn’t fit well with the others. I must make a note to change that in the very near future.

I know very little about music, even though I work in the record store department of the family store, but I know it’s important to others. I recall a young man, or boy, who came in and asked for a song “My Bonnie,” and I remember his face being so disappointed when we didn’t have that record in stock. I almost wanted to come up to him and put my arms around him. It wasn’t eros, but more of a feeling or remembrance of my past disappointments. I feel if I could supply people a certain amount of happiness, and not deal with bitter disappointments, then I have contributed something to “this” world. Alas, there are for two worlds. I’m going to change one world and make it into my idealistic world. I have the tools or instruments right in front of me. I just need to fine-tuned or get rid of the Pete issue.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 18 (Greta Garbo)

September 18

“I never said, ‘I want to be alone. ‘I only said ‘I want to be let alone! ‘There is all the difference.” One should be able to choose who you want to be with, or who you want to work with. This is my desire. This is my right. I was from Sweden and came to America to become part of the motion picture business. Well, I ended up in the industry, and I didn’t like it — not one bit. To improve my English dictation, I studied tapes made by Lord Haw-Haw, a British citizen who made broadcasts for the Nazis during the war. He at times used an upper-class British accent, while making statements over the radio, and I found it hypnotic. I try to imagine that it’s P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves whispering in my ear, but what he said sounded so beautiful, but the ugliness of the content was something I had to move aside. “The people of England will curse themselves for having preferred ruin from Churchill to peace from Hitler.” I played it over and over again, till I got his accent just entirely correct. I didn’t do this for a film role but to be part of a new world, and with that, I needed a new identity. By no means was I erasing my other personality, because I wanted to have the ability to switch roles or positions in life.

I’m going to do one more job in the film business, and then I’m going to spend the rest of my life drifting. As I approached my 60th birthday, “in a few days, it will be the anniversary of the sorrow that never leaves me, that will never leave me for the rest of my life.” One can mark success in different ways, and for me, it is to be alone with my heart and some close friends. I always believed that there were two sides to me. One being a recluse and the other, a social person. But I cannot be treated like a performing monkey anymore. I resent my directors telling me to smile, not a smile, say my lines, not to say my lines, and so forth. I don’t feel like I have a strong sense of self, and therefore acting is a way of communicating with the public or the individual. People think I’m beautiful, but what does that exactly mean?

My last role will be playing twins that are conjoined by the head, to be exact by the eye. I’m playing both roles, so it will be tricky for me to convey two separate identities, yet one body. To be honest, the script is not that great, but I think it will be an exciting role, or two roles (they should pay me twice!) and then say goodbye to my so-called public life. What I have to imagine is having a part of me that is always there. What I have done is practise my lines in front of the mirror and pretending that the image is another character or my twin sister. For one of the sisters, I chose the Lord Haw-Haw accent (“Jairmany calling, Jairmany calling”) but for the other sister, who is a country singer - I try to go for a soft southern accent. It is sometimes tricky because I feel like I’m separating my soul in doing this part.

“There are many things in your heart you can never tell to another person. They are you, your private joys and sorrows, and you can never tell them. You cheapen yourself, the inside of yourself when you tell them.” So how does one sister keep her distance from the other, when physically they are together for always. One of the sisters is non-disabled, but the other one has spine bifid, which causes a height difference. So one has to carry the other around, but she made a bar stool, because it is the exact height, and just added wheels to the bottom of the stool. The able-body sister serves as the manager as well as holding the microphone when the other sings. The script is loosely based on a real set of twins, but of course, this being a film, many things are made-up. Once I finish that film, I will focus on nothing. I won’t disappear, but I will decline to participate in the film world, or any other world that is out there. It will just be me, and the private world of the other. I walk alone, but there is always another angel inside me that guides me through the murky waters that are known as life.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 17


September 17

I barely exist. Well, perhaps to you, I barely exist, but for me, I am the star of my own world. I just don’t have the resources to make a proper appearance or become the person you think I should be. I’m a songwriter as well as a writer.  I don’t have a record deal nor a relationship with a publisher. Still, I can create something, make something that can be admired if you allow me that pleasure. I have the tendency, or some say the talent to choose the wrong type of woman. The ones that make me purr are usually married and married to powerful men. I want a taste of that power by being with their women. To taste what they have eaten, even though it’s a by-product of their ability, their position, it is still a high for me to get close to it. There is something in my DNA that makes me want to throw a punch before thinking it through. I don’t consider myself a vicious man, but once I taste their blood, it is like wine to my senses. I once read that there are no accidents or coincidences, that every gesture or thought is pre-planned. If I was meant to be productive, successful, and I guess happy, then it would happen.

I have been told that “You’ve got a million-dollar talent son, but a ten-cent brain.” The problem is that I need attention before anything else. I can’t stand being ignored or not to be the focus of attention. It’s always a shock to me when people don’t respond to me right away. Everything I do or see is an extension of me. I take a walk down Waverly Drive, and I know the architecture, the road signs, and even the trees as objects that should have a relationship with me. I find it odd that a thing can exist without me thinking about that thing. As I try to finish my memoir “I Am Not Ashamed,” I find myself in a deep sea of doubt, and that, to be honest with you, leave me scared. I wrote a song called “Angel of Death,” which confronts my fear of not being around. “Can you truthfully say/With your dying breath/That you’re ready to meet/The Angel of Death.”

My taste for married women came from the feeling that I’m alive and here at the moment. I don’t like to think about the next day or even the next minute. When you get to it, I want to be famous and admired - and the love or lust from a married woman brings that intensity in life. My girlfriend’s husband, Franchot, threw a punch at me the other night, he missed, and I broke his cheekbone. It felt good to do that.

On the other hand, I won the battle, but I may have lost the war. It felt right at that moment, but now people are beginning to doubt me or even worse, not caring at all. There is only so much pain to go around, and I can’t be seen as the pain giver, because people will be tired of me. And then what? “Just a deck of cards and a jug of wine/And a woman’s lies make a life like mine/Oh the day we met, I went astray/I started rolling down that lost highway.” - Tosh Berman

Monday, September 16, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 16 (Korla Pandit)


September 16

I was obsessing over Korla Pandit, both the man and his music when walking towards the Central Library in Los Angeles. I looked up at the Standard Hotel to hopefully get a glance of someone up there. Usually, when I’m on the street level, I don’t see a thing. But I saw a sole man, looking at the view of downtown from the roof. I immediately thought if he was going to jump. When I went into the library and began working on my memoir, I read on Facebook that a man jumped from the pool/roof area of the Standard Hotel just now. I felt terrible because I thought maybe that guy up there picked up on my thoughts about jumping. But to be honest, I often think about that. While walking around downtown, due to the tall buildings, one is always aware that someone can topple over the roof or their window, and hit you while you’re strolling along the boulevard. When I read the responses to that post, regarding the unfortunate soul who jumped, most didn’t comment on his suicide, but more to the fact that it is unsafe to walk around the downtown area. One person mentioned that a bowling ball almost hit him while he walked past a ten-story building. Whoever had that bowling ball, used it to keep their window open, for air, I guess.

Nevertheless, I went back to my writing and thinking about Korla Pandit. I find him fascinating, because one, I love the sound of the organ. Pandit was an incredible musician, and myself being attracted to visually stimulating people, found him magnificent. He used to have a show called “Korla Pandit’s Adventures in Music” that was broadcasted every weekday on the Los Angeles TV station KTLA. He never spoke but looked dreamily into the camera while performing his music. Each episode was 15 minutes long. He looked like he came from somewhere exotic, such as India. He had a white turbine and usually wore a tuxedo. One story I heard was that he was born in New Delhi to a Brahmin priest and a French opera singer who traveled from England to India. Eventually, the family made it to the United States.

At the time he was doing his weekday TV series, he also did the music for the radio drama series “Chandu the Magician.” The main character Frank Chandler (“Chandu”) had the ability to teleport, astral project, mesmerize, as well as project illusions. He learned the secrets of the occult from the Yogis in India. In many ways, Korla looked like Chandu the Magician. Chandler, after learning the secrets of the occult was told by his Yogi teacher to “Go forth in the youth and strength and conquer the evil that threatens Mankind.”

As one knows, evil is everywhere. Kierkegaard has commented that “Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder, then, that the world goes backward, that evil spreads.” If one can lose oneself into an exotic world, then I feel that there is hope to at the very least, force evil back into the Pandora’s box. By instinct, I feel Korla brings Eastern wisdom into the Western world, or at least he did so when he did his 15-minute television show. Not saying a word, and looking into the camera, and playing his organ, he speaks with significant volume. Even with my slight knowledge of Korla Pandit and Chandu the Magician, I couldn’t save the man on the top of the Standard Hotel. To do good, one needs to be a professional. -Tosh Berman

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 15


September 15

“A great many people have come up to me and asked how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated. “I have always been known to friends and foes to be the go-to-guy with respect to having a martini always near me. In all seriousness, “I know I’m drinking myself to a slow death, but then I’m in no hurry.” I have trouble sleeping at night, so I find having a chilled glass of martini at the bedside helps me sleep better. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I just reached the cooler, and take another sip, and I’m off to dreamland, where I try to imagine my life as a memoir. Which also keeps me up at nights, because I’m so damn busy remembering every little incident that went through my world from age 1 to 20. Youth is significant, but the memory of childhood is much more important. Luckily there have been substantial changes in the world of writing, one that “the biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon.” With the miracle machine, the laptop, I don’t have to worry about that. Now I can write till my fingers run off to the side, where the martini glass resides.

My life changed when I found out that I’m a distant relative of Gilles de Rais, perhaps the first serial killer on record. The Frenchman was alleged to killing up to 600 children from 1432 to the spring of 1433. I personally don’t believe the number is that high, more likely 200. Nevertheless, being related to such a brute (although a refined one, according to historians) hasn’t helped me much. The dark cloud that follows me I think came from my distant relative. I try to think and behave like François de La Rochefoucauld, who seemed to be a reasonable gentleman of nobility. I bear that in mind while writing my memoirs and sipping my drink. He wrote that “true love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.” I had a dream the other night that I was on an island, and I came upon a sophisticated party, full of beautiful women - one of them looked like Louise Brooks. When I approached her, it was like I wasn’t there. She didn’t acknowledge me, and I had the feeling that either I wasn’t there, or she wasn’t there as well. The whole party appeared to be projected from someone’s dreams, but, to me, it wasn’t from my dream.

“There is only one kind of love, but there are a thousand imitations.” So perhaps my dream the other night was my experience of falling in love, but the girl didn’t even exist. Can one love just an idea of being in love? The other part of the dream that I remember quite clearly is when I heard someone from the party saying “Why don’t you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?” At that moment, I woke up and reached for my chilled martini.

Book Musik Episode 7 Podcast: "Doctor Faustus" by Thomas Mann

Tosh & Kimley tackle a work of fiction on this episode - "Doctor Faustus" by Thomas Mann. A twentieth-century, German composer (very loosely based on Arnold Schoenberg) makes a devilish deal. We get into the esoteric weeds on this one and focus on the themes of what it means to be an artist in society and why the work of an artist is so mysterious and mythologized. A little Nietzschean nihilism, some blood, sweat and tears and a backdrop of warfare drive this conversation. This book is far too deep for us to cover in full, but we have fun scratching a bit of the surface.

Book Musik No. 7 "Doctor Faustus" by Thomas Mann

We even put together a music

Apple Music:  book-musik-thomas-mann-dr-faustus


Saturday, September 14, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 14 (The Lone Ranger)


September 14

There is something so honorable about taking a stand in life, no matter what happens. I don't usually pray, but first thing in the morning, even before a cup of coffee, I knell in front of my full-length mirror and silently repeat to myself:

"I believe that to have a friend,

A man must be one.

That all men are created equal

And that everyone has within himself

The power to make this a better world.

That God put the firewood there

But that every man

Must gather and light it himself.

In being prepared

Physically, mentally, and morally

To fight when necessary

For that which is right.

That a man should make the most

Of what equipment he has.

That 'This government,

Of the people, by the people

And for the people'

Shall live always.

That men should live by

The rule of what is best

For the greatest number."

Many years ago, a bad man did an awful thing to my father, and ever since then, I swore that I wouldn't allow evil to come upon my house nor my neighbors. Usually around 9:00 PM, I go to my closet and get an outfit that resembles a Texas Ranger uniform, and with the cloth, from my father's leather vest, I made a mask to go with the outfit. I carried a pistol, but I swore to myself that I would never use it to take another's life. If anything, I would use it to signal help, or at the very least shoot a weapon out of the villain's hand. Sometimes I have missed, and I shot a finger or two off, but alas, it was a miscalculation of taking the wrong aim. Nevertheless, I use only silver bullets to remind myself that life is precious and not to be thrown away.

Also, as much as possible, I want to use perfect grammar and precise speech devoid of slang. If one is going to bring justice to the area, one has to set high standards, in case any children are following my career or my duties as a fellow citizen. Therefore I don't smoke or drink. I enter into the night because I embrace the darkness that surrounds the area. It is usually in the dark where bad men do evil things, but for me, I want to take the night back and bring it to its natural poetic, beautiful soul. I tend not to soil myself in such a fashion where I refuse to drink alcohol or eat fatty foods, but instead, I think water to purify my damaged soul.

As I wander into the night, I have to deal with the idea of revenge, but I do know that this is a fruitless form of activity, because that thirst can never be satisfied. If you go to that well, you will always find yourself back to that well, trying to drain the last drop at the very bottom. I did retire once and found someone else taking up my role or identity. If he followed the above creed or promise, I would be more understanding - but this man or creature decided to take the law into his own hands, by committing massacres one after another. So obviously, I had to go back into the night to clear my name.

After putting on the recording of "William Tell Overture" on the turntable, I approached the mirror again, and slowly put my costume on, knowing that I will never be able to leave my identity as the figure who fights for justice. I declare to the night and to all those who feel a false sense of security in the nighttime. I'm back.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 13 (Friday the 13, and the number 13)


September 13

Triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number “13.” The composer Arnold Schoenberg had a deep fear of that number, and in fact, died on Friday the 13th. He was reminded by his friend, mentor, and a fellow composer, Oskar Adler that when he attained the age of 76, and that the numbers 7 + 6 = 13. At that point, Schoenberg avoided multiples of 13 but never considered adding the digits of his age. For that whole year, Schoenberg suffered intense fear, in fact, the day he died he was feeling fine, but the thought of “13” made him go to bed, where he was sick, depressed and anxious. Like his friend Oskar, Arnold was also obsessed with the horoscope. A dear friend of Schoenberg, Oskar taught the great composer the rudiments of music and played chamber music with him. As well as being a member of the Society for Private Musical Performances, organized by Schoenberg as a private listening club for the purpose of playing modern music to other composers and those who are fans of the “new,” also gave spiritual advice as well as horoscope readings.

To go to the concerts presented by The Society for Private Musical Performances, you have to join the organization, and it was an attempt to keep out hostile critics who would attack the music or performances. On the entrance door as read “Critics are forbidden entry.” Also, the applause was not permitted after the performance of any of the music carried out by the musicians. To be a member, you have to be interested in modern music.  One is there to be exposed to the music that was being made in Vienna, 1918. It was regarded as a success because the organization gave 353 performances of 154 works in a total of 117 concerts. Schoenberg, who created the series didn’t allow any of his music to be played for the first two years of the organization. Instead, programs included works by Stravinsky, Bartók, Debussy, Ravel, Webern, Berg, and others.

When Schoenberg moved to Los Angeles to teach music composition at USC, he met a very young woman by the name of Amy Camus, who either came from Brooklyn or as she later claimed, from Callao, Peru. Nevertheless, she wished to study with him, specifically voice. She had a singing voice that was over four octaves from B2 to C♯7 (approximately 123 to 2270 Hz). According to the composer Virgil Thomson, her voice is “very low and warm, very high and birdlike”, but her range “is very close to four octaves, but is in no way inhuman or outlandish in sound.” This is a viewpoint not shared by Schoenberg.

Camus had an eerie sound, and it sounded like it came from another part of the world. Some would think “Peru,” but it could have been anywhere from Central or South America. As a European, Schoenberg had never been exposed to such a voice or a culture that Amy brought to the table. He was intrigued by the range and sound of her voice, but once she filled out the application stating that her birthday was on September 13, he withdraws that application and claimed to have lost it. Nevertheless, she did find some success, and eventually signed a record contract with Capitol Records, where she had numerous hits during the 1950s.

As for Schoenberg, he was offered a chance to do the soundtrack to a Hollywood film. The studio wanted him to write incidental music as well as a major theme in the film’s beginning and ending credits. But Schoenberg insisted that if he takes the job, he would need to have complete control not only of the music but the entire soundtrack of the film, including all dialogue spoken in the movie. The producers were taken back by his demands because they have not previously heard such a thing. Sadly, the studio had to turn him down, and a young Les Baxter was approached and ended making the music for “Ritual of the Savage.” The film never came out, but it did become a Broadway show, that unfortunately wasn’t much of financial success. It was reportedly inspired by the book by Raymond Roussel called “Impressions of Africa.” The producers pulled the plug of that show after only 13 performances. - Tosh Berman

Tosh Berman at Beyond Baroque, Reading from TOSH with Interview with Pat Thomas: Feb 14, 2019

Tosh Berman will read from TOSH: Growing Up in Wallace Berman's World (City Lights) and also chit-chat with Pat Thomas. Do come and support the Beyond Baroque world as well.

Saturday, September 14 at 8:00 PM

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center
681 Venice Blvd, Venice CA 90291

Thursday, September 12, 2019

"Artaud 1937 Apocalypse: Letters From Ireland by Antonin Artaud" Translated & Edited by Stephen Barber (DIAPHANES)

ISBN: 978-0358-0153-8
"Artaud 1937 Apocalypse: Letters From Ireland by Antonin Artaud" Translated and Edited by Stephen Barber (Diaphanes)

Through my parent's world, the face of Antonin Artaud was very much part of my landscape.   In my dad's studio or workspace, there were usually photos of Artaud taped to the wall.  His face was beyond handsome to me.  Almost beautiful, but with disturbing touches of his mental illness, he was the poster icon for those who were insane and highly creative.  If the punk world had Syd Vicious, and the 90s had Kurt Cobain, then Artaud was a figure of revolt, but in a solemn manner.   He was an actor, poet, theater fellow, but he did his uncompromising work, and maybe even impossible to follow through.  Still, Artaud's essays on the theater, peyote, cultural studies and his inner pain are something that speaks to those who are out of the world.  Perhaps even more important, those who wish to remove themselves from such a (so-called) sane world.

In a state of insane mania, Artaud went to Ireland in the year 1937.  Without money or a specific plan, he became the village idiot, with his cane, who he felt it belong once to Saint Patrick.   "Artaud 1937 Apocalypse" is a small book of his correspondence to 'friends' in France, that even to this day, is a frightening read.  The difference from hearing someone ranting on the street, and reading these letters, is Artaud's poetic vision.   A superb stylist, even when he's on the brink of total mental collapse. 

I can imagine being Andre Breton (some of the letters were sent to him) and be either amused or read with horror.  Still, what is painful to understand is the raw emotional state of Artaud's mind.  Stephen Barber did a remarkable translation, and his afterword is excellent as well.   Artaud believed in apocalypse scenes.   In truth, as he was put in a mental hospital in Paris, during the occupation and World War II, perhaps his visions were actual projections of things to come.   A remarkable little book. 

Tosh's Journal - September 12 (Bathtubs)


September 12

If I have one addiction, it is the sweet addiction of taking two or three baths a day. In the past, this was not a big deal or a person would barely raise an eyebrow about it - but alas, us citizens of Southern California are experiencing a drought that is severe, and more likely (and we have to be honest here) will kill us. I can imagine shortly that visitors will come to visit the landscape, and it will be full of skeletons with their skulls in a dry ditch. So, there is a certain degree of guilt now when I take a full bath or two (or three).

What I have done is put an extra bathtub in my bathroom. When I either flush my toilet or use the bathroom sink, the water automatically goes into the main tub which is made out of fibreglass. Since I'm the only one who uses the bathtub, I'm not concerned if the toilet water is slightly dirty, or if there is some strain of toothpaste from the sink that ends up in the main tub. The other tub, is used for the evening, and what I do is to transfer the bathwater from the first bath to the second tub. Meanwhile, whenever I walk by the restroom, and of course, due to my liquid diet, I need to use the toilet consistently. So the water supply is reasonably fresh for the main tub.

It is common knowledge that John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (who also served as Prime Minister) invented the bathtub for the full adult body. Before that, it was the size of a glorified dishpan. The "modern" bath came to the United States as recently as 1842, and it was reported that the tub was made from mahogany lined with lead. The bathtub for whatever reason was a controversial topic matter, until President Millard Fillmore had one installed in the White House. After that, bathing in a full tub became quite popular. Before 1842, Americans were tended to be dirty.

Since I tend to use the toilet a lot throughout the night, I do have a sizable amount of water in the bathtub. For one, I don't use shampoo or any soap. Soaking in water should be adequate to enable one to be clean. After I get out of my bath, I use a rubber hose to suck up the water from the tub and put the tube into the other tub. Similar to the practices of siphoning gas from a car. Also, as a rule, I don't put anything unclean in the water, except perhaps a rubber boat, which I like to play with while taking a bath.

So, with this in mind, I can save water and still enjoy my bath time. There is nothing like having the music of George Jones in the background, specifically his early recordings around "White Lightning" and enjoying the landscape outside my window, which is a field of dirt and rocks. Once there was vegetation, but alas….

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 11


September 11

When the twin towers fell, I was thinking about Barbarella. When something horrific comes upon me, I immediately turn to a pleasant thought, or to be honest, an escape. There is always that moment in time when you don't know what's happening, and you are on the computer or watching television, and you're not getting news, but just the raw feelings of anxiety, fear, and numbness of watching the jet hitting the building over and over again. It becomes pornography after a while, and I prefer the Eros of Barbarella than seeing a death machine hitting a skyscraper. To have used that jet, not as a missile, but as a spacecraft going to another galaxy for the purpose of having sex with Barbarella. That is the purpose of machinery, to give and receive pleasure, not death.

I had to go to work that morning, and it was strange because I worked at a bookstore, and there were a lot of customers that day. I think they wanted to be with other people, and somehow a bookstore fits the location and the need when those wishing to make contact with others. I remember a customer coming in and asking if we had books on the al-Qaeda. I never heard of them, and it took me a while to get the correct spelling of the name to see if there were any books in print on that subject matter. Then shortly, another customer came in and wondered if we had any books on Osama bin Laden. Again, a name that I never heard of. What was interesting is that a lot of people were either freaking out or trying to comprehend what happened and what does that exactly mean in their lives. One thing I do remember was that the Sheriff's department closed off traffic to the West Hollywood City Hall. I thought to myself of "why would anyone want to attack the city hall of West Hollywood?" Nevertheless, I think everyone who saw a plane in the sky thought it might be a missile of death.

The cultural significance was when Salman Rushdie came into the store to shop, and this may be two or three days after September 11. He just wrote a book called "Fury", and he consented to sign the stock for our store. Rushdie was friendly and very disturbed about the attack. One thing he said that made an impression on me was that his novel ("Fury") is not important anymore. Rushdie stated that his book was the old New York, and now the attacks happened, his version of New York doesn't exist anymore. He was likewise left stranded because he couldn't fly back to his home in New York City. At the time, I read a lot of observations by New York writers, and all of them were interesting. The one that stays in my mind is a column in the Guardian newspaper, written by Jay McInerney, where he comments on the "before and after," and although it is a stock statement or cliché, it is also totally understandable. For me, my fear for the then future would be how the U.S. would react to the crisis. Sadly, and not surprisingly, they did everything wrong. Not only Iraq but our policies in dealing with the international world as well as the terribleness that is happening in the States. The terrorists sent us a box, and the U.S. opened that box without any hesitation. All the evil things came out, and no one will never ever be able to box up the ingredients of pain. The other thing that stayed in my mind was that our best selling title at the bookstore that month was "Zagat Los Angeles 2001."

Somewhere down the line, we traded our fantasies for despair and horror. We could have gone on the Barbarella route - to explore space and bodies, but instead, we now have a world that is not enjoyable or aesthetically pleasing. Just dread, misery, poverty, and a century (the 21st) that will be my last.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 10 (Georges Bataille)


September 10

I have weekly meetings with the College of Sociology, which usually takes place at lunchtime at various cafes and from time-to-time, in people's homes. We had a meeting last week, which took place in my living room. The one thing we all have in common is that we strongly disagree with the theory of Surrealism. We all feel that the surrealist's focus on the unconscious privileged the individual over Society, and therefore ignores the social dynamic of experiencing the human that works in various social groupings. As a group, we're interested in "Sacred Sociology, and we study all manifestations of social existence where the active presence of the sacred is quite clear." We have studied and critiqued the army, Marquis de Sade, English monarchy, literature, sexuality, Hitler and of course Hegel. Each one of us must present an essay or a lecture every week.

Within this group, there is a secret society where we meet on a monthly basis, always late at night, in the nearby forest. Our meeting place is by an oak tree that was once struck by lightning. The "acéphale" (greek for headless) Society is devoted to performing certain practices, including nudity and eating raw meat of some sort. Using a flashlight in the pitch blackness of the forest, we read aloud passages from Sade and Nietzsche. We see these two writers as liberators of the human spirit, and therefore in great secret, we celebrate their thoughts as it is written in their books. For purity, we read the works in its original language: German and French (for Sade). We all discuss carrying out the human sacrifice, but we couldn't agree on who the executioner should be. Every one of us in the group wanted to be sacrificed, and none wanted to be the executor.

We were fascinated with the art of "slow slicing," or better known as "death by a thousand cuts." It was a type of torture and execution used in China from AD 900 until it was banned in 1905. During the execution, a knife is placed on the body, where the executors would cut pieces of the flesh, till the prisoner dies. Opium would be applied mostly to prevent fainting of the criminal. The criminal must be conscious of his or her body being stripped slowly. In general, these executions took place in the public square, where the citizens can watch the drama that is taking place in front of them.

"We have in only two certainties in this world - that we are not everything and that we will die." The ritual of death is fascinating and sharing our thoughts within this group, is something that I treasure greatly. "Sacrifice is nothing other than the production of sacred things." We tend to stay by the oak tree till the lightness of the dawn, and then we wander back to our homes, thinking it was just a dream. Alas, we know it isn't because we all shared as series of moments reflecting on death.  Therefore becoming more alive knowing that the moment will happen eventually. A good friend of mine told me once that "work is making a living out of being bored." Thinking of death somehow frees me from boredom, and knowing that, makes living way much more intense. And on top of that, I don't have a job; therefore, I'm never bored.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 9 (Homage to Colonel Sanders of KFC)


September 9

This may seem odd, but when I see an image of Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) fame, I think of Japan. There are many KFC outlets in Japan, and each one has an incredible statue of Colonel Sanders by the entranceway. Although he did live, he doesn't to me appear to be a real living person. Only an image. A ghost image to be honest. Also, when I used to eat meat, I liked the Japanese version of KFC. For whatever reasons, which are a mystery to me, the Japanese taste seems different in these chain of fast-food stores. Everyone I know in Japan loves KFC. Now, I don't love the food, but I'm fascinated with the numerous statues of Colonel Sanders.

Colonel Sanders was born on September 9, 1890, in a small house in Henryville, Indiana. The population was 1,905 according to the 2010 census. Weather-wise, Henryville has a humid subtropical climate, which means it has hot, humid summers and generally mild winters. In 1902, after his father died, he moved with his family to Greenwood, Indiana. He didn't get along with his new step-father and drifted away from his home life to move in with his uncle in New Albany, Indiana. His uncle worked for the city's streetcar company and got his nephew a job as a conductor. He then falsified his date of birth and joined the United States Army in 1906, where he was sent to Cuba. He was honorably discharged after only three months and then moved to Sheffield, Alabama, where another uncle lived. There he got a job as a blacksmith's helper, and later eventually became a fireman at the age of 16.

He got married, had three children, and while being a fireman during the day, at night, he studied law by correspondence, and eventually became a lawyer. His legal career ended when he got into a fistfight with his client in a courtroom. He then moved to Jeffersonville, Indiana to work for the Prudential Life Insurance Company, where he sold life insurance. He then got fired for insubordination and got a salesman job with the Mutual Benefit Life of New Jersey. Around this time, he started up a ferry boat company that was a success. He operated a boat that went from Jeffersonville to Louisville and back. He sold his business for $22,000 and used the money to launch a company that made acetylene lamps. Sadly this was not the right type of lamp, because Delco introduced an electric lamp that soon became the format that was sold at the time. He moved to Winchester, Kentucky to work as a salesman for the Michelin Tire Company, but lost that jobs when Michelin closed their New Jersey manufacturing plant. He then met the general manager of Standard Oil of Kentucky, who asked him to run a service station in Nicholasville. But like his luck, that too didn't pan out, due to the Great Depression, and therefore the gas station had to shut down. However, if you failed once, try again. The Shell Oil Company gave a service station to Sanders rent-free in return for a percentage of sales. It was here that he began to serve chicken dishes and at the same time he was awarded the title of Kentucky Colonel, by the Governor of the state of Kentucky.

Colonel Sanders claimed that he had an original secret recipe for his chicken, and the only thing he had to admit to the public was that he used salt and pepper as well as 11 herbs and spices. The big difference between KFC in the U.S. & Japan is that in the States, they use vegetable oil for frying the chicken. In Japan, the oil used is mainly the more expensive cottonseed and corn oil. Therefore the taste difference between the two cultures. So the colonel eventually sold KFC to John Y. Brown, Jr. And Jack C. Massey for $2 million. When many years later Brown and Massey sold the chain for $239 million.

Colonel Sanders died in 1980, but in truth, did he even existed? After he was awarded the identity of being a Kentucky Colonel, he immediately dressed himself as one. He grew a goatee and wore a black string tie with a white suit. He never wore anything else in public, and he bleached his mustache and goatee to match his white hair and white suit. He had a heavy wool white suit for the winter and wore a white light cotton suit in the summertime. Colonel Sanders wore this uniform for twenty years. So even after his physical death, he still lives on as the logo for KFC. But again in Japan, one is accustomed to seeing his features, his white suit, string tie, in front of 1,181 outlets as of December 2013. As of this writing, Kentucky Fried Chicken is well known as being the meal at Christmas time in Japan. Roughly one billion chickens are killed each year, and therefore I usually have a salad on Christmas Day.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 8 (Homage to Peter Sellers & Alfred Jarry)


September 8

"There is no me. I do not exist… There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed." It isn't I can't stand myself, but I'm on the surface extremely dull. There is no spice in my DNA to make me special. What I can do is re-invent myself to a better version of me. Or start from scratch and create a new "me." I tried to do my best to blend in with the crowd that I came to be accustomed to, but clearly, they never took me seriously. All of them feel that I'm a performer, but for the heck out of them, they can't remember one film or theater piece I have done. They know that I exist, but in what degree is totally beyond them.

As a card-carrying pataphysician, I have consistently been mistaken for Peter Sellers. The interesting fact is that we don't look like each other at all. But still, I'm always reminded of him, due to what people think he or I look like. A day doesn't go by, where someone doesn't comment on the resemblance of the dead late comic actor. If he was alive, I wonder if people would still make the comparisons between him and me. "The dead… are more real than the living because they are complete." I suspect if I were dead, then I would get my own identity back. Again, even with that, my lack of uniqueness would be challenging for someone to pin me down. Also, my face is not mine, but a remembrance of someone else's face or appearance.

To live in one's shadow, is a traveler wandering in a neighborhood where he's not invited, but accepted with closed arms. I have often appeared in front of an audience, but they were expecting something else, or even someone else. It takes approximately ten minutes into my performance where the audience realizes that they are at the wrong show. After a while, I believe "that the applause of silence is the only kind that counts." Every day I try to re-think myself in a new position where I find that I need to think what 'my character' would do in a particular or specific incident or plan. It is rarely that I consider "what I would do" but mostly 'what would he or she does." And that is pretty much how I see the world. A fellow pataphysician has commented that "the theater, bringing impersonal masks to life, is only for those who are virile enough to create new life: either as a conflict of passions subtler than those we already know or as a completely new character."

I was reading Siegried Sassoon's poetry, and I came upon a statement by him that touched me: "The fact is that five years ago I was, as near as possible, a different person to what I am tonight. I, as I am now, didn't exist at all. Will the same thing happen in the next five years? I hope so." The only occupation that I'm suitable for is acting. Sadly I can't remember a written line if my very life been dependent on it. What I do is improvised anytime I find myself in a conversation with someone. I never know where or when the conversation ends, but I pretend that I do know, and I think the other person will gently follow my lead - in a sense, it is like dancing the waltz, where one leads the other.

I wrote a play that had one performance, so I guess one can call it a total failure. Nevertheless, the lead character stayed with me, and I adopted his language as my own. For instance, I never say the wind, or it's windy. Instead, I would say "that which blows." Slowly but surely, I built up a character that became comfortable to wear. But I was always aware that the things I said or do were based on another character - sometimes a fictional character. In the future (if there is a future) the play "will not be performed in full until the author (the royal we) have acquired enough experience to savor all its beauties." I tend to see the world as a theater piece, and sadly, I'm the only one in the audience.

-Tosh Berman

Tosh Berman at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center on Saturday, Sept. 14th at 8 P.M.

Saturday, September 14th, 8-10pm 
Venice, CA: Beyond Baroque

Join TOSH at Beyond Baroque!  Beyond Baroque is located at 681 N. Venice Blvd. Venice, CA 90291 For more 310-822-3006;  Also interview with Pat Thomas.

A reading and discussion with Tosh Berman, former director of Beyond Baroque and author of the memoir Tosh, Growing Up In Wallace Berman’s World. Tosh will be interviewed by journalist and author Pat Thomas.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Tosh's Journal: September 7 (Homage to Buddy Holly, Jacques Vaché, & Edi...


September 7

"I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty… But I am too busy thinking about myself." I don't have a lot of knowledge about the world that's out there, but I do know myself, and at the end of the day, that is all I could offer you. Now, whatever that is good or not, is totally up to you. I can only offer what I know, which is not much. I feel like I'm 250 years old, and man does my eyes feel heavy. All I know is that I'm a man of excellent taste, and "good taste is the worst vice ever invented." To stand out in the world is like asking someone to cut your throat. It's not a nice world out there. In fact, it's a jungle. And I wish I can inform you that I'm Tarzan, but I'm more like George of the Jungle.

I feel the time is marching on, and I'm afraid that I will remain in the dustbin of history, which means ignored, and my writing is lost somewhere in the Central Los Angeles Library. I wake up with the greatest dread, knowing that I'm facing at least 12 or 13 hours of failure. "You know the horrible life of the alarm clock – it's a monster that has always appalled me because of the number of things its eyes project, and the way that good fellow stares at me when I enter a room." I feel time mocks me, and I know when my birthday just passed, people were thinking, "there he goes…"

Not long ago I purchased a six albums (on vinyl) box set of Buddy Holly's music. America has produced many talented people, but none is more important than Buddy Holly. He was a figure that was a modernist, specifically with his take on music-making as well as appearance. The heavy dark rim glasses, with the beautiful suits and sweaters that he wore, it had a profound effect on me, because I had trouble seeing without my glasses. His imperfections became a symbol of perfectionism. He turned the negative into the positive, why that boy was a magician as well as a superb musician. His death, to this day, is precisely what I can't take in. I cannot possibly understand why he went in that dinky airplane in a storm to get somewhere early, so he can do his laundry before the next show. Dandyism is a lifestyle, but it can also lead one to an early death. Yet, there can't possibly be a God, to let go such a brilliant talent. He tested against the elements and lost. I obviously don't have his genius, but I do have the expertise to lose, in a major and significant way.

"Hot water is my native element. I was in it as a baby, and I have never seemed to get out of it ever since." I'm not worthy of living in a world that makes such enormous demands on my ability to create chaos that is my poetry. "Poetry is the deification of reality," and I feel like I'm standing against a wind machine, that is blowing me towards another direction, that I care not to go. "ART does not exist - So it is useless to talk about it - but! people go on being artists - because it's like that and no way else - Well - so what?"

I never got over the death of Buddy Holly and especially Jacques Vaché. Two poets who I feel didn't finish their work. At this point and time, I have outlived both for many years. Holly was quoted in saying that "Death is very often referred to as a good career move." Perhaps he's right, but I feel I was left by the side of the road, and I don't have a compass to tell me what direction I should go to. The art is to wander. "I'm not trying to stump anybody… it's the beauty of the language that I'm interested in." - Buddy Holly.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Tosh's Journal - September 6


September 6

The one film role that I wish I did, but didn't, for the apparent reason, is to play Count Orlok in the film "Nosferatu." I identify with the character because he's living death or known as "The Bird of Death." I live in a large home that was slowly decaying due to the lack of money and resources on my part. For instance, if I'm sleeping on my back, and at a certain angle, I can see the stars right above me in my bedroom. Luckily there's a drought in California, or I would be in terrible trouble. I tend to have sleepless nights, so I often wander from one room to another. Sometimes with a purpose, but mostly not. I own a DVD copy of "Nosferatu," and I tend to play it around 3:00 in the morning. Being half-asleep and permanently disturbed, I find a certain amount of peace watching this film.

To make savings on electricity and power, I rarely use any lighting in the house, except for the TV, and even that, I only allow so many hours to watch the set. I don't have cable, so what I watch on the TV is mostly my DVD collection. Rice, vegetable stock for soup, and beans are pretty much my diet these days. Thank God that there is a local library in my neighborhood, so I can, in a sense, read books for free. To remove myself from all the abstractions in the world sets me free to use my imagination. I often try to imitate the actor Max Schreck who played Count Orlok, to attempt to ground myself in a world that is shifting away from me. It has been noted that he lived in "a remote and incorporeal world" and that he spent time walking in the forest.

I don't have any paintings or images on the wall. Nor do I have mirrors. I tend to forget what I look like, and I sort of like being in a situation where I can never describe myself to anyone. My only desire is to look like Count Oriok, and therefore why do I need a mirror?

Before dawn hits the sky, I like to wander around my spacious backyard, which is so full of trees and bushes. I want to lie on the dirt and look upwards towards the fading stars, and the reflection of nearby neon lighting of Glendale, and imagining myself coming from this dirt, yet being part of the sky. As I get older, I try to imagine what death feels like. I don't see it being a painful experience, but neither is it an abstract plane. I sometimes think that I have died, and I'm just floating around the residence with not a purpose or plan. - Tosh Berman