Sunday, May 31, 2020

May 31, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

May 31, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

Things are moving fast, but at the same time, it is going slow-motion. The world is a series of horror incidents that seem to come from a 1950s Science-Fiction B-flick with paranoia touches, which is consistently a downer.  There is no good news on the horizon.  At times, I can say, "there's sunshine around the corner," or "it will get better."  The truth is it won't get better.  I think we are dealing with either the death of a culture (which can be a good thing) or the world is ending, and no one gets out alive.  Or, something in-between those two categories.

The uprising or riots, or whatever one wants to call it, is an event that is still happening as I write.  It can start one way and end up in another category as well.  I suspect that we will never know, because perhaps it began with passion, and then ends in boredom.  A brutal murder takes place in front of a phone camera, and the world shakes.   What upsets me the most is not just the death, but the fact that someone has the power over life and death, and chooses death for that person.   For many, sickly, it's acceptable for that police officer to do something like that.   On a daily basis, a Black person gets murdered by the police, and we are shocked in that manner of people getting shocked on Facebook or Twitter,  and then go on to another spectacle.  The obscenity of these people getting murdered for no reason than that they are black is the shocking aspect of it all.  We become accustomed to these men and women getting killed in front of cameras that it becomes wallpaper after a while.  One thing that the mainstream and underground media have in common is that they love to fetishize death.

I have met many good police officers, but then again, I'm white, so what do I know?   It seems that the police department is very much set up to be as a gang, where the occupation becomes an adopted family. You watch each other's back, even when a murder by a fellow police officer takes place.  The three other cops surrounding the killer is doing what it is trained to do - protect the family; in other words, the gang member, meaning the Police Department.  There's no reason why a man has to die for a counterfeit $20, or bad check, under the Police control.  If even, there was a crime being committed.

Still, it seems history repeats itself but also gets worse.  The Trump Virus is very much part of the social landscape where people are dying when they don't have to die.  Yet, a significant portion of the population is OK with either the death of a black man or woman, as well as someone who comes to contact with the virus. Freedom is very much a subjective desire or object.  One can be free from an illness or choose to spread their infection, without a care in the world.   One can dig their head into the sand, but you also have to come up for air.   Everything touched in this world becomes our property, and we don't take care of it.  Like dominos, you flick one, and they all come down.  - Tosh Berman.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Tosh For ARTBOOK /D.A.P. Talks About "Weegee's Naked City" (ICP/Damiani)

Tosh For ARTBOOK /D.A.P. Talks About "Weegee's Naked City" (ICP/Damiani)

Weegee is the iconic street photographer of New York City. One of the first things I think of when I think of NYC is Weegee. Tosh Berman talks about the importance of this photographer as well as exploring the themes and textures that is "Weegee's Naked City."

Purchase the book here:

Or here:

Virtual Event: Wednesday, May 27, from 7–8 PM, ICP Presents Christopher Bonanos on "Weegee's Naked City"
Tickets and information here:

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Tosh Berman For ARTBOOK / D.A.P. : "The World's Worst: Portsmouth Sinfo...

"Diary of A Foreigner in Paris" by Curzio Malaparte (NYRB)

This journal/diary is worth the reading for the purpose of Curzio Malaparte's habit of howling with the dogs in the middle of the night.  Malaparte had the talent to be in the right place with the correct people.  For one, he's a remarkable prose stylist.  And two, his observations of people around him are descriptive like a fine meal.  His comment on Camus is of great interest.  Camus had a dislike for Malaparte, what I suspect is due that he was once (or still?) a Fascist. Malaparte is sort of a Tom Ripley character who switches sides like one changes their overcoat.  His very nature and position in culture are one of a big question, but also such a fascinating character. 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

May 23, 2020 (In the Year of the Trump Virus)

May 23, 2020 (In the Year of the Trump Virus)

For the past week, I have become good friends with my next-door neighbor's cat.  She's adorable and spends a great deal of time hanging out at my front door.  For the last seven days, I have been sitting on the front stair and petting the cat.  I haven't spent that much time with an animal due to various reasons.   I haven't had a cat since the 1980s in Hollywood.  For whatever reason, cats like me a lot. I often walk down a street, see a kitty, and yell out, "Hello," and I swear the cat meows out a "Hello" to me as well.  Isolation does interesting things to a fellow.  Not in a hundred years would I thought 'I'm going to look forward to talking to my neighbor's cat." Still, the beautiful aspect of an animal and its characteristics is something to be amazed about, regarding their nature.  

If the news is correct, people are going out this weekend and rejoin the human race.  Due to those actions, say within two weeks, we will see if these people even exist on our sad planet.  Since the lockdown, I felt there is a war against the virus, and whatever I can do to make people safe, or feel safe, is not beyond my reach.  Yet, some fellow citizens don't see the world as I see it.  If it were another issue or cause, I would be tolerant.  Due to their actions, they may cause more pain and death.   In my war mode of thinking, these citizens are traitors.  Or they are deserting the troops at the height when we need to pull together and get ourselves out of this mess.  I always had this feeling that I couldn't trust the other fellow or gal, and my suspicions are more likely correct. 

The neighbor's cat is very loyal to me. I'll always remember her friendship.  On the other hand, I'll keep in mind those who are weak and selfish.  Culture wars be damned; I'm on the right side of life. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

"The World's Worst: A Guide to the Portsmouth Sinfonia" Edited by Christopher M. Reeves & Aaron Walker (Soberscove Press)

ISBN: 9781940190235

Off the top of my head I'm going to presume that this is the only book on the legendary Portsmouth Sinfonia. A combination of a scrapbook as well as a series of interviews by people (musicians?) who were involved with this English orchestra. Which included Brian Eno, Gavin Bryars, and Michael Nyman, among others. What makes Portsmouth Sinfonia unique is that they did the popular classics we all love and know, but they couldn't play. If they were musicians in the orchestra, they played instruments that they didn't know how to play. The conductor, couldn't read a music note if his life depended on it. Still, they manage to play at the Albert All among other classical orientated concert halls and made three albums. What seems to be a joke to some is in actuality an art practice at work. The thing is everyone involved with the orchestra was serious in doing the best that they can to perform the music. For me, it's another way of looking at the classics. It's interesting to hear these familiar works in punk or at the very least, a new way of approaching music. The book expresses the joy of being in the Portsmouth Sinfonia as well as its importance to the avant-garde music world.

Friday, May 15, 2020

BOOK MUSIK: The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached" by Mark Doyle (Reakton Books)

Tosh and Kimley discuss The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached by Mark Doyle. The Kinks are one of the iconic British Invasion bands whose music has only gotten better with time. They were quintessentially British and proud of their working-class roots which came across in their music. Doyle explores the time and place that nurtured The Kinks’ creative impulse specifically examining their North London neighborhood, the British class structure and the social upheaval of the postwar era. There’s a lot of conflict and tension surrounding this band and “Semi-Detached” is the perfect way to kick this off.
Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17

Monday, May 11, 2020

May 11, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

May 11, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

I woke up this morning, finding a photograph (1948) of our property on Facebook.  Where Home Restaurant now is, it used to be Currie Ice Cream Parlour.   Up the hill is our house, where we are now prisoners of the Trump Virus.  There used to be a Red Car Station on the hill, which is walking distance from our home.  Until now, I never heard of Currie Ice Cream.  I texted my mom about it, and she told me that there was one in Hollywood near her home when she was a teenager.  It seems that they were famous for their Mile High Cones with a lot of scoops.   I looked on the internet, and there are some interesting images of their interiors.  There seemed to be a jukebox, which, to me, is a sign of civilization.  Also, benches by the counter, that were big enough for two people.  I have seen stools by the counters, but not seats for two.  The staff that worked there had white outfits, similar to the classic gas station attendant uniform. 

The I-5 is right beyond our house, and that was built around 1956. I guess that Curries was still in existence when Interstate 5 was being constructed or perhaps even opened at the time.  When I walk around the neighborhood, I'm amazed by the everyday occurrences of life being lived or structures that still exist from the mid-20th-century.  My dream is to have a silver plaque on the side of our residence that says that Tosh Berman wrote "TOSH" here. Perhaps even have a small museum in honor of my work and life. 

Today, I did some work on my secret project, as well as reading some articles about President Virus's White House stricken by the Virus. He's a fellow that is surrounded by enemies, germs, and wicked, ugly karma.   Shakespeare could have written this narrative, but the truth is he wouldn't.  Nothing is interesting about President Virus.  His existence will be less remembered than Currie Ice Cream Parlour. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

May 10, 2020 (In the Year of The Trump Virus)

May 10, 2020 (In the Year of The Trump Virus)

Mother's day. I took the day off from my writing job and just focused on getting tulips for my mom this morning.  I bought her white tulips and purple tulips.  I went to Gelson's on Hyperion at 10:00 A.M. for the flowers, and once there, we decided to do a little bit of marketing.  Since the lockdown, I have been obsessing over Amy's Mac and Cheeze.  All vegan.   I throw in a handful of almonds, and it's a perfect lunch.  It does taste like frozen food, but that I think is what makes frozen food so tasty.  I miss the taste of Swanson's TV dinners.  A piece of beef of some sort.  Something green, I think green beans, and then some object that looks like the mashed potato, and usually, for desert, there is that apple something another.  I love that food. Mind you; I haven't eaten that type of frozen dinner since I was a child.

We drove to my mom's house and parked directly across the street from her home.  I called her to let her know that we were there, and she said: "I can see you out of the window."  My mom is 85 years old, and I'm 65.  We got out of the car, and I went up alone to her door. She opened it, and I gave her the flowers and said, "Happy Mother's Day."   When she opened the door, and with our masks on, I immediately took a full-step back.  We didn't do small talk, such as talking about the weather, or how we are doing.  I usually talk or text my mom every day, so sometime in the day, she knows what I'm doing.  She has mentioned that she likes seeing me in person, although I can't imagine anyone would want to see me, alas, she is my mother.   The truth is, the news has been bleak.  Every day, people have been dying either from the virus or just famous people from the infection or cancer.   There is never a good day to watch or read the news.  We stood there, and she stood there, and we waved goodbye to each other.

For our next podcast Book Musik, I'm reading "The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached by Mark Doyle.  I have to finish this book by Monday (tomorrow) and do the podcast that Tuesday.  My life before and after the Trump Virus is the same.  I have a schedule for writing and posting narratives on Facebook, as well as keeping up my reading.  I take my plan very seriously, and I also mark my calendar in what I'm going to do for that day.  People are talking about if they should open for business, well, I'm here to tell you I haven't closed for business. 24/7 Tosh, that is who I'm.  I work at home, so this lockdown is a piece of cake for me.  I can go to work, but I firmly tell you, people, you shouldn't be working or going out of your residence.  Stay at home and read my daily posts.

Either for comfort or temporary insanity, I decided to put on Led Zeppelin II  when I got home from the market and mom's house.  This is a band I respect but not love.  What I do admire is how Jimmy Page blends his various guitars in the mix. The music itself is not exciting, but as a great chemist or bartender, he knows how to the proper mix. "Whole Lotta Love" works for me, especially the orgasmic spacey part of the song.  It is here that I imagine Page having sex with some enticing groupie of somewhat questionable age, and holding back the climax.   The rest of side one is not as important as the first track, because, after the sexual release, I'm exhausted.

Around four this afternoon, I watched a film called "The Most Dangerous Game," starring Joel McCrea and made in 1932, an RKO Picture.  Wonderful film.  Only an hour-long, which is a perfect length for a movie.  A story about a hunter who is being hunted. It has serious thoughts on the nature of humans hunting down animals.  I wouldn't recommend the film to vegans or dog lovers. I'm afraid that some dogs met their end in a very not nice manner. Still, it put me in a good mood, when lately I have been sour toward my self and the world.  My only suggestion at this point is when you feel depression coming upon you, put a smile on your face.   It won't take away the misery, but it does add a sense of absurdity to the mix. - Tosh Berman

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

May 6, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

May 6, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

Strange day today, due to the passing of a family friend and poet Michael McClure, and of course, being a Kraftwerk fan, I'm off my mark due to the death of Florian Schneider. Death is never a comma; it always the period at the end of a sentence.

I don't know if it's a matter of luck, or I thrive on bad times, but since the lockdown due to the Trump Virus, I have been working steadily.  I now have three writing jobs, and all of them are fascinating.   I can't go into it here, because I feel it's bad luck to write about a future project or assignment.  The dire situation was a month ago, our bank account had nothing but trapped moths, and now there is some hope. I'm grateful for that, no kidding.

When I do go out it is to pick up my mom's laundry, which we do on a weekly basis.  Young people are walking around with no masks, and one can feel the tension of being contained for the past month and a half.  I'm not sure what the psychology is, with people who refuse to wear masks when they are out running or walking on the street or park. On the surface, it seems to be a freedom of doing what one wants to issue, but I think the thinking is more of distrust of the information that they are getting, and it doesn't help when President Virus gives conflicting news, which is tinged with his apparent madness.  Also, a lot of people are selfish.

Late last night, I read a post on a Facebook page of a "friend," saying that it is natural for the old to get sick and die, and therefore as a healthy person, why should he suffer for it.  All he wants to do is work, be with people, and don't see the reason why he needs to protect older citizens.  I posted a comment saying, "that's a tad harsh, no?"  When I went back on the site to read if there was a comment made on my post remark, the entire post was gone.  So, there is the sensitivity of sorts being played out, but in truth, there are people out there who don't care what happens to others, and therefore they feel that they shouldn't be restricted in living their own lives. There is a "Me" and "Us" view of the world. America lacks the collective need or the urgency or the will to sacrifice to do things together for the common good or the health of others.

For me, I have a zeal to stay home.  Every day is a new adventure, and I embrace each day as if it was my last.  My mood changes as if one change their bedsheets, but nevertheless, I'm finding myself optimistic about my life. Still, I'm feeling that American society is reflecting on their dark and dangerous soul.  It's horrifying out there, and if one feels fear, I think that is a natural acceptance. Anxiety, sleepless nights, boredom, and fear are the characteristics of living in America. Perhaps in your world as well? - Tosh Berman

Sunday, May 3, 2020

May 3, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

May 3, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

Between reading music-related books for the Book Musik podcast, I have been reading for the past week a memoir by Salka Viertel, "The Kindness of Strangers" (NYRB).  Viertel lived in exciting times.  Born in 1889 and died in 1978, her landscape was Berlin/Austria, and then a move to Hollywood with her three kids, due that her husband, Berthold Viertel, got a job writing for F.W. Murnau, a friend from the old country.  I'm on page 138, and they just moved to Santa Monica, the exact address is 165 Mabery Road.  Not far from the Pacific Ocean.  Salka was a theater actress in Europe during the height of World War 1.  So far, a fascinating document, and now she's in classic Hollywood.

Last night, as I was preparing for sleepy time, which means brushing the teeth, washing the face, and make sure I didn't break the wine bottle nor glass, I heard a voice through a speaker or horn outside. I looked outside my window, and I saw a police helicopter going around and around with a spotlight at a specific area in my neighborhood.  Not on my street, but perhaps on Glendale Boulevard. The voice came from the helicopter, and I think they were saying 'go home' or 'leave now.'  I checked out the NextDoor app that I recently put on my phone, mostly due to crime in the neighborhood issues.   There was a party on Ivan Hill Terrace at a rented air BnB where 100 people or so showed up.

As you know, this is the middle of the Trump Virus, so why are people partying?  And in such high numbers?   I'm going to have to presume that I will stay at my house for at least an extra month or so.  There seems to be resistance to be told to stay home. As I mentioned yesterday, Americans hate to be told to do anything. They are the type of people who climb up on public monuments in other countries. On one level, they're goofy, but when you think about it, why do they exist on this planet?

I started to read the latest issue of Artforum Magazine.  Depending on my mood, I either hate the publication or have a deep passion for it.  The April issue has an excellent article on Beardsley, which is unusual for Artforum.  I have been subscribing to this magazine for at least three years, and I seem to read every third issue as it comes to my house.  When you subscribe to a publication or journal, it feels like homework to read the damn magazine.  It's a mental state on my part, and I'm trying to look at this particular world in a much lighter and pleasurable manner.

- Tosh Berman

Saturday, May 2, 2020

May 2, 2020 (In The Year of the Trump Virus)

May 2, 2020 (In the Year of the Trump Virus)

I feel a great deal of anger, but in all honesty, anger doesn't suit my character.  As I write, I'm in my backyard that looks over Fletcher and Riverside, and it's odd to see the buses running.  Are there even people on the buses?  Seeing them makes me feel lonely.  I'm one of the few in Los Angeles that loves to take the bus.  It was one of the spots for me to do my reading and, if enough time, a little nap here and there.

Mother's day is approaching, and of course, there are limited things I can do for mom on this special day.  My thoughts on gift-giving are always practical.  I was thinking of a subscription to the New Yorker, but she told me she prefers flowers and dark chocolate.  Like most of us, she is living within the structure that is her one-bedroom apartment, and she lives alone.  I talk to her almost daily but also text her as well.  When I call, I rarely have anything new to say to her.  I communicate with a great deal of nuances when writing, but a conversation on the phone is not one of my excellent skills in life.  It is another part of the brain at work, and I would be comfortable just dictating words on a piece of paper or the screen to chatting, which I'm not that good at.  Or am I?

A great deal of my time is spent working on a film script, which also entails research.  I wish I could say more about the writing, but now is not the time.  It is a paying job for me, and I love that, of course. I imagine myself as being William Faulkner or F. Scott working in the studios.  I'm a very romantic chap, and this is the headspace where I do my job.

One thing for sure, I will not leave the house unless it's obtaining food or taking something over to my mom and Uncle.  On an emotional level, I kind of understand why people want to gather in crowds or be with others.   And of course, being an American, I also appreciate the feeling that one doesn't want to be told what to do.  It probably brings back bad memories when people were in elementary school.  Therefore they are still acting like children when told that they should stay at home.  There are many wars out there, and we have to remain focused and sharp.  The lack of concern for others is disturbing.  At this moment, I feel the collapse of the system, but there are no plans to replace the sickening Capitalism that is destroying culture, and people's lives.  If I live, and I'm pretty sure I will, I'll make a point to look back at these days, and knowing that it was a peak for me in some fashion.

Friday, May 1, 2020

BOOK MUSIK #021 "AWOPBOPALOOBOP ALOPBAMBOOM: The Golden Age of Rock" by Nik Cohn

Tosh and Kimley discuss “Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock” by Nik Cohn. Initially written in 1968 and revised in 1972, “Awopbop…” is one of the earliest books to tackle the history of rock ‘n’ roll, both in front of and behind the curtain, and this is back when everyone still thought it was a passing phase. Fifty years later and now this book is essential reading in the music writing cannon. Cohn developed a writing style that was completely in sync with his subject matter – brash, visceral, in your face, with loads of attitude. He doesn’t mince words and will happily tell you that The Beatles sucked. You may not agree with him but you’ll still be smiling as you attempt to muster up a few choice words of your own for the writer.