Thursday, April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

April 30, 2020 (In the Year of the Trump Virus)

Some days are challenging to do any work.  I pretty much spent the day looking at my laptop screen and trying to imagine words appearing in front of me.  Alas, just a blanked screen that mirrors my empty head. I try to go somewhere emotional, but that is dried-up as well.

Early this morning, I went to Trader Joe's Market to purchase some food, but the real reason for the trip was we were out of wine. It is debatable if Lun*na and I are alcoholics, but clearly, we are devoted to wine brand/label "Charles Shaw." We have friends who look down on this wine brand, due that it's $2.99 a bottle. For us, it's heaven on Earth.  We tried other brands, but Charles Shaw has been consistent in taste, and of course, easy on the wallet.  We bought three cases of wine, as well as foodstuff, which is not that interesting. At the Berman/Menoh household, 7:00 P.M. is happy hour, which lasts until one of us falls asleep at night.

The last time we went to Trader Joe's was precisely last month.  We have been shopping online for food, but Trader Joe's doesn't have a delivery service, nor do they use third-party services. So, if one wants the wine, we have to go ourselves.  Again, it was very well organized. All you have to do is follow the arrows up and down the aisles of the market to do your shopping.  The funny thing is I like being told to stay at home, and I love the mechanic aspect of shopping where one does follow instructions regarding the arrows and so forth.

At one time in my life, I adore anarchy.  But now I crave order and designs that take you from point A to Point B.  I get upset when I read people are going to the beach or having parties because it's going against the lockdown world.  Don't get me wrong, I do miss the social life and the ability to go to record and book shops, but other than that, I adore being at home. Not once have I felt stir-crazy or bored. Every day is something to be excited about, such as if I'm going to form words on my computer screen or not.  I explored every area and corner of my house.  Sometimes I even go in the closet and close the door after me, to see what that experience is like.

When I go to bed, it is usually the feeling when I can't keep my eyes open.  I watch a bit of TV, do some reading, and often end the night with a glass of red wine.  Afterward, I lay in bed with great anticipation for the next day.   - Tosh Berman

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

April 29, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

April 29, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)
I need to walk more. When I do go out to walk, I see other people like me who are thinking of walking for the past few days, and then suddenly, they're out walking at the same time. When I see them, I across the sidewalk to the other side. The problems are, what one should do if two or more are walking toward your direction, and you can't avoid them. The only thing one can do is reverse the trend and go among the others in the same direction. So, my walk is only 1/2 block long, and I'm back in my living room, thinking about my walk, and being aware that strolling in one's neighborhood is a pleasant memory from the past.
From Amoeba Music's website, I purchased The Doors' "Waiting for the Sun." I played it loudly, which made Lun*na closed her studio door. For the past two or three years, I have been criticizing The Doors to friends, enemies, and on various people's Facebook posts. A week ago, I had the urge to listen to the song "Love Street," which is a tune that was a favorite of mine when I first purchased this album in 1968. I was either 13 or 14 years old, and remember having a deep crush on a girl in Topanga Canyon, and whenever I played this song, I thought of her. Playing it now, I still have the memory of having a feeling for this girl, but for the life of me, I can't recall her name or face. My memory never forgets an emotion or a feeling, but people are like ghosts in my life.
I was watching "Columbo" with Ross Martin playing a contemporary snobby art critic who is also a murderer. He had one put-down comment after another, but none of it was witty or wise. Still, I loved watching Martin dealing with Columbo, as the evidence piles up that he is the killer. I fell asleep before the show ended and woke up to another Columbo, where another killer is planning and executing a murder. In my sleepy mind, I couldn't figure out what happened to Ross Martin's art critic. Slowly, I realized that this is another episode of "Columbo," and immediately, I felt sad that I missed the past show. I could have just watched the previous shows' end, but I felt that would be cheating. Perhaps it was fate for me to miss the ending of that specific episode. - Tosh Berman.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

April 28, 2020 (In the Year of the Trump Virus)

April 28, 2020 (In The Year of The Trump Virus) For Marc Weinstein
Mentally I'm reaching the stars, but physically I'm hitting the basement. My legs are achy due that I have stopped my three-mile walks per day. If I listen closely, I can hear the left leg saying, "walk me, Master." The other leg is saying, "No Master, there is another episode of "Wanted: Dead or Alive" to watch. That is existentialism in a nutshell.
I compiled a major playlist for our Nik Cohn episode of "Book Musik." Over two-hours long, it is the history of pop seen through the ears and eyes of Mr. Cohn but selected by yours truly. My co-host Kimley and I usually do this together, but due to the size and zillion choices one can make, it's easier if one person does it. Otherwise, we would be on the phone for hours saying 'Nah, or 'yeah.' The next book we will be doing is a book on The Kinks. We're looking forward to the next episode.
Like a Zen Monk addicted to silence and space, I'm focusing on keeping myself busy. Even in the middle of the night, I find myself thinking about what I will do when I wake up. I'm excited at 3:45 AM, just tossing and turning in expectations of the next day. What disasters will arrive in our world? Sometimes I imagine myself as a prisoner. Oddly enough, I'm a restless soul. I like going out to record and book stores to reimagine a landscape of my choosing. Now, I don't have those types of choices, although I do spend a great deal of time thinking of being in a specific store.
Also, in the middle of the night, I'm thinking about being in Amoeba on Sunset Boulevard. Although the last time I was there, it must have been about two months ago. Still, I can recall each department and section of the store. Usually, when I go to Amoeba, I like to check out the new, used vinyl that just came in, and then I go to the "A" section of vinyl to see if they have that rare Kevin Ayers album. They never do, but it's the adventure of maybe it will be there. Then in alphabetical order, I check out the entire 'rock' section, and that will take me into the back room. I go into the jazz section to see if they have any Andre Hodeir or Michel Legrand albums, and then work my way to the classical section. I see if they have any Glenn Gould or Erik Satie records, and if I fail (which I usually do), I then check out their 20th-century classical music section. Then comes my favorite section of the store, which is the oldies. For the life of me, I don't understand why Scott Walker is in their oldies section. I understand The Walker Brothers, but Scott's "Drift" in oldies?
I end up in the foreign section, where I check out the French section, looking for later Jacques Dutronc recordings, which seems impossible. Then on the way to the exit, I look through Soundtracks, especially the Morricone section. If I time myself perfectly, I can leave the store, and get on the No. 2 bus back to Silver Lake. This is time well spent. Then I get out of bed.

- Tosh Berman

Monday, April 27, 2020

April 27, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

April 27, 2020 (In the Year of the Trump Virus)

The one thing about Americans as a culture or society is that they are predictable.  Their Achilles Heel is that they must feel independent from others.  It's a culture that is based on the importance of "Me" than anything else.  If you tell them not to go to the beach, for example, they will feel like a matter of pride, and human right, that they must crowd the coastline as a sign of their importance to themselves.  Also, they are merely bored.  Which I totally understand.  They may live in a small compact structure, and also, there are the issues of them having children, dogs, all screaming to go outside somewhere, anywhere that is not in their restricted living area.  Viruses are a mystery force.  One cannot see it; therefore, one must suspect that it even exists.  If it was space aliens hovering over Los Angeles, that is one thing, but can one be in fear of something that is not obvious to them?  If the day is sunny and warm, it's very American to go out and play among fellow citizens.  For me, I hate social gatherings.  I prefer staying at home and working on writing and watching "Wanted: Dead or Alive" (starring Steve McQueen) on streaming services.

Twice a month, Kimley and I do a podcast "BOOK MUSIK," where we focus on one book on music per episode.  We just finished reading Nik Cohn's "Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock."   The book, written in 1968 by a then 22-year old pop music geek, is a masterful form of youth reflecting on the pop culture of the 1950s and 1960s.  Cohn had the knack of praising an artist at the beginning of the paragraph, and by the end of that paragraph, he says they're shit.  Every sentence he writes is argumentive but superbly written.  Cohn and Ian Penman, I think, are my favorite prose stylists who write on music.   Of course, I will probably change my mind next week.

My hobbies at home are watching early 1960s TV shows on streaming services, hating President Virus (that takes a great deal of time, a real time-waster), reading music books, memoirs, and playing records.   What I find horrific is reading the daily death counts on the popular media and social platforms.  It seems my entire generation, the baby boomers, are quickly dying off.  That's a total drag.  The Trump Virus has killed many, and also the aging of the bones and body are working hand-in-hand in eliminating the people I love or respect.

On the other hand, Lun*na and I put up a canvas covering to protect us from the direct sunlight when we sit out and have our wine around 6 in the evening.   We're fortunate that we can spend the time to reflect on the world around us, and in such a manner of reasonable comfort.  Have a great day. -Tosh Berman.

April 26, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

April 26, 2020 (In the Year of the Trump Virus)

Naturally, I reflect regularly, and now in Lockdown mode, I resonate with great intensity.   I do have a regular schedule at home.  I wake up around 6:30 in the morning, when the dawn is breaking. I have become sensitive to the natural sunrise and sundown, which seems to be changing much faster lately.  When I read my calendar for something that was last week, it seems a lifetime away, yet in the present, the day goes quickly.

I'm fortunate to have a job.  I may be one of the few individuals on this planet that got a job during the Trump Virus lockdown.  I'm co-writing a film script for a French producer/art dealer, and the work keeps me occupied and not always think about the dangerous situation that we are all in at the moment.  When I do focus on the outside world (meaning outside my home), I shutter.  Still, getting food through Instacart, although expensive, is pretty consistent now, compared to a few weeks ago, where one wasn't sure if they can get food delivered to one's home.  My wife and I pretty much stay indoors, except recently I do go in the backyard and sit in the shade to read.  It's hard to believe that a week ago, it was chilly, but now it is in the 90s, and one wonders how is that even possible?

President Virus puts me in a rage, and I hate the fact that I hate him so much.  I don't have a gun, and the reason why I don't have a weapon is that if I see him walking down the street, I will shoot him.  That is not a good position in life.  Nor healthy.  So, I focus on my work.   I do keep myself informed on what's happening politically, as well as any current information regarding the Trump Virus.

Being in a lockup for me is not that difficult.  I do miss the social interactions of seeing people, even the occasional chit-chat with a Lyft driver, but what I miss the most are libraries, books, and record stores.  I tend to go to shops not only to purchase a book or music but also to unload my mind for an hour or so, by just looking at a bookshelf or record store racks.  Time-to-time I like making the noise at 8 pm, but after two or more weeks of that, it is becoming a chore.  Still, this is nothing compared to the people who are working now in saving lives, serving food either in stores or restaurants, and drivers who are still maintaining bus schedules and Lyft drivers.  I'm not here to complain but to enjoy life.  - Tosh Berman

Sunday, April 26, 2020

"Erin Reads Things To You" - Erin reads TOSH

"Erin Reads Things To You” which is a great series, and Erin chooses to read an excerpt (very brief) from my book TOSH. And she got the glasses and wine right! - Tosh Berman

Monday, April 20, 2020

Amoeba Music Needs our Help

One can tell from reading my blog that I'm a mega-fan of Amoeba Music.  Their Hollywood location is a magnet for my attention and physical well being.  I have purchased much but also treated this store as a museum.   Due to the Trump Virus, Amoeba needs financial help in paying bills.  Please donate if you can, or at the very least, purchase their music through their website.  Click on "Amoeba Music Needs Help link down below, and contribute.  Merci, Tosh

Amoeba Music Needs Help

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

BOOK MUSIK No. 20 - David Bowie's Diamond Dogs (33 1/3) by Glenn Hendler

Book Musik 020 – David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs (33 1/3) by Glenn Hendler

David Bowie's Diamond Dogs 33 1/3 by Glenn HendlerTosh and Kimley discuss David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs by Glenn Hendler from the 33 1/3 series. Diamond Dogs is frequently considered one of Bowie’s best albums by critics and fans alike. It’s an album that was stitched together from the detritus of a failed 1984 project and his reading of William Burroughs’ Wild Boys which impelled Bowie to use the cut-up technique in his lyric writing. Bowie’s cryptic lyrics are ripe for the kind of OCD examination that the 33 1/3 series allows. And given our current virus-laden era of social distancing and big brother-like policies emanating from the powers that be worldwide, this feels like an album for our time.
Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Our store in downtown Los Angeles’ arts district is located in Hauser & Wirth’s gallery complex. We have a sizable selection of books on artists represented by the gallery. Like most bookstores worldwide, with our inventory frozen, I am reaching out to our regular visitors, and introducing the store to a larger community, by highlighting part of this selection. It’s part of the store’s ever-evolving inventory that includes books I consider of interest, that address the shifts in current culture. I hope to see my regulars, and new visitors, when it is safe for us to meet. I miss my store terribly and all of you. 
Be safe. My kindest.

 --Lacy Soto, Director Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth LA Bookstore

Please shop at our store Here: Artbook at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

Sunday, April 12, 2020

President Virus (Trump) Plans to Veto Bill for Funding the United States Post Office

My father, Wallace Berman, is known for making postcards and then sending them to people. They were or is "Mail Art" in its truest definition. My dad liked to send quick messages to friends, but always on a card that he made and designed by himself. They were never meant to be exhibited in galleries or museums, but now they are often in museum collections. Nevertheless, the reason I'm bringing this up, is that President Virus plans to veto a bill that will give much-needed funds to the United States Post Office. I would think stamp collectors and mail art fans would find this horrifying. Stop President Virus. - Tosh Berman

April 12, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

April 12, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

Oddly enough, I feel at ease being alone here with Lun*na.  I enjoy the hours of solitude and being at home.  As well as e-mailing and texting friends to see how they are holding up.  Some get back to me right away, and others, after a week, I haven't heard a squeak from them.  Which is OK, because it means that they are not feeling well, or doing what I do for a hobby.  Which is to shop for food online, and being consistently frustrated in not only getting the food I desire but also no window for deliveries.  It's ironic for a few decades now, we have been sold that Amazon is the answer to our shopping needs, yet, it is this website that now disappoints us in a very frustrating matter. Ironically, I can locate and find the rarest album in a $10 range on the far reaches of the Internet, yet, I'm a total failure in obtaining toilet paper.

It is also strange that I got a writing job during lock-up, and it's a fascinating project.  I can't talk too much about it, because it is at the very start of this exciting proposal, but I have to do a lot of research, and that is enjoyable to me.  It keeps me occupied and not think about the daily grind of everyday life in the Year of the Trump Virus.  Still, I had to refresh my grocery list on an hour-by-hour basis.

Life has drastically changed for a lot of people, but for Lun*na not that huge of a change and me, due that we always work from home, when we can.  Money is still a problem for us, and ever since I left the bookstore work at Book Soup, it has been a struggle.  Once I left the store, I decided to become a full-time writer. In the power of Positive Thinking frame-of-mind, I kept to my promise.  What is extremely difficult is being the sole family member taking care of my aging mom and Uncle.  They are OK, but there is always the fear of the shoe falling off, and I trained myself to be alert and ready for any emergency.  Even that, my first thought is to go to them, but the truth is that it is too dangerous.  I try to make sure that they can get help from professionals when the need is upon them.

Before the Trump Virus hit Los Angeles, I was working part-time at Artbook at Hauser & Wirth.  I had to be laid off during the crisis, which is understandable to me.  I asked my manager if I can do volunteer work from home, and I have been organizing friends and artists that I admire, to put together a reading list so that we can put it on our Artbook web page.   Lots of indie bookstores are on, and I beg you to all buy books from this website, which promises to be the alternative version of Amazon.  All you need to do is type your favorite bookstore, and it will take you to their order page.  It's essential that you must feed your stomach, but you also have to feed your mind.  Reading right now is one of the best things one can do to fight the boredom or anxiety of being contained in one's home or space.

Yesterday afternoon Kimley and I put together another podcast episode of Book Musik, where we discuss various books on music.  The subject matter is David Bowie's Diamond Dogs, and it's a book written by Glen Hendler and published by 33 1/3 Books.  That episode will be up on April 15.  We both need to keep up with this show, not only to entertain you, dear listeners but also to keep a schedule - the purpose of doing something positive.

I hope all of you are having a lovely holiday today, and remember never to lose your sense of the absurd or humor.  I'll be seeing you. -Tosh Berman

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Tosh's Top 20 Book Titles: Buy them here through Artbook at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

This is my top 20 list of books that I recommend for readers and fans.  As you can gather, Independent bookstores are having a difficult time.  Please support Artbook at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles as well as your local indie bookstore in your area.  You can purchase any of these titles here: 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

April 4, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

April 4, 2020 (In the Time of the Trump Virus)

The last few days, I have to say, have not been dandy. Every day brings another day of horrific news.  It is heart-wrenching to read on Facebook and elsewhere of the deaths that are tied to the Coronavirus.  It doesn't help that President Virus can't help himself, except saying disturbing statements, that sounds like the ramblings of an insane person.  To put trust in him is a no-no from common sense.  Even his supporters must be having a hard time dealing with all of this.  I think his strength is his stupidy.  Some people are comfortable with stupid. They are pleased when the bar does not rise too high; in fact, if it is buried under the ground, 20-miles down, it gives them some relief.

The only thing good about all of this is being secluded from the world. It's just me, my wife, and our record and book collection.  Due to technology, I can still do our podcast Book Musik with Kimley, as well as my current, and gratifying,  writing job.  What I do miss is human interaction with people, and not being able to visit book and record stores.  I miss that greatly.

Today, I didn't take a walk around the neighborhood, due that now I'm wearing a mask, it's hard for me to keep my glasses not fogging up. It's the little things, the so-called devil in the details, issues such as preventing one's glasses, not fogging up.  The struggle is consistent!   On the other hand, I watched and listened to 'The Band That Fell to Earth, which is a tribute Bowie group.  The singer of the band is Julian Shah-Tayler, and every Saturday, he has been on Facebook Live doing Bowie covers.  Such enjoyable fun, and I can also do the writing while he sings away.  Perfect!

In these horrifying times, it's important not to lose one's sense of humor.  Do laugh, because that is good for your soul.  And as the No. 6 says, "I'll be seeing you."

Serge Gainsbourg - Ce mortel ennui (1964)

Sort of the social distancing video from Serge Gainsbourg.  Well, almost.  Nevertheless, a brilliant visual with the great Serge.  Throughout his long career, I think I love him the most during the late 1950s and early 60s.  But again, when you buy or listen to Gainsbourg, your getting quality.  - Tosh Berman​

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April 1, 2020 (In the Year of the Trump Virus)

April 1, 2020 (In the Year of the Trump Virus)

The day went fast. There is a disconnection when I read people’s posts on Facebook, and they are looking for things to do and/or finding enjoyable activity. But for me, I feel very busy at work, and I realize that it is contained in one’s home is usually my typical landscape. Because I’m a writer and was a publisher, the majority of my work took place in my home office. What I do miss is going to the library in Downtown Los Angeles to do work. I noticed when I leave the house to do writing, it feels like work, and therefore what I produced in the library there is something different from what I do at the home office.

Luck has it, I have a paying job staying home, and it’s a writing job. As my dad used to say regarding financial troubles, “The curtain is about to Fall.”  Well, that is precisely my situation until I got this job. It’s a great project, and I’m happy to be involved in something so interesting to me. Still, depression lurks due to hearing people passing away, which is unbelievably sad. One of my favorite films is “Barry Lyndon,” and I remember a scene where Barry joined the Army, and he is told to charge the opposite Army, but everyone in his troop is getting shot down, yet he must keep going onward. The scene is funny but very black humor as he looks at the person by his side get shot, and the fellow in the back of him, being shot, as well as the one in the front, and so forth. Every time I open the computer, I hear of another’s passing, and all of it is just terrible. Death gets closer, and already I have friends who are going through the misery of someone’s death, if not from their family.

My generation, and I was a child/teenager, went through the Vietnam War, but this is the first time I have experienced something that is felt worldwide. The sense of dread or suffering is something that we all share, and I know it’s odd, but I’m almost happy to be part of the world at this time. If I have a good day, I feel I can bring that to the world. Which reading this sounds egotistical, but I genuinely want to entertain you. Have a great evening, and stay at home as much as possible. As one gathers, you can’t really trust President Virus, so use common sense, and with fingers crossed and being aware, we will get through this odd nightmare.

Tosh's Journal : The Bad Seed & Emilio Salgari

BOOK MUSIK 019 - "It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track" by Ian Penman

Book Musik 019 – It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track by Ian Penman
It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track by Ian Penman CoverTosh and Kimley discuss It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track by Ian Penman. Penman is a well-established British music journalist who has been writing since the 70s. This book of some of his more recent longform essays covers the mod music scene of the 1960s and seven additional essays on music icons James Brown, Charlie Parker, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, John Fahey, Steely Dan/Donald Fagen and Prince. Penman digs deep and examines the broader cultural context of each of these amazing musicians. This is the book that every smart music junky craves.
Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17