Saturday, October 31, 2020

Wallace Berman


A work of art by my dad, Wallace Berman.  I think he did the piece sometime around 1965 or 1966.

Tribute to Sean Connery by Tosh Berman


It's strange to think about it, but I and my dad's bonding (no pun intended) was driving around Los Angeles and going to the cinema. I remember seeing "Dr. No" at the Chinese Theater either in the late morning or afternoon matinee. I must have been either 8 or 9 years old, and like millions of others, Sean Connery made an impression on me. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the Bond films, but I love the title sequence, the action scene before the titles, and of course, the lens-eye of Connery walking up in front of the camera and shooting his gun toward the audience. After that, it's a blur of images of travel locations and girls. Still, no one can say "Bond.... James Bond" like Sean. His body language, clothes, the fetish of cars and weapons, and the fact that Bond/Connery can walk away from the 'adult' toys, and the most distinguished part of his body is his eyes and eyebrows. Roger Moore had the eyebrows thing as well. I was a fan of the Bond/Connery world's by-products, such as board games and toy guns. Sean and I share a birth date, and ever since I was aware of his birth date, I thought of him on my birthday as well. I will continue to think of him on my birthday until I pass on. -

Tosh Berman

Friday, October 30, 2020

"Peter and the Wolves" by Adele Bertei (Smog Viel)


ISBN: 9780578639437

This small gem of a book is superb.  Adele Bertei's memoir of her brief life with (now) legendary Cleveland musician Peter Laughner is a very heartfelt look at their friendship. Bertei, after this time, became a member of the original No Wave band The Contortions and worked with Tears for Fears as well as Whitney Houston.  Laughner was in the classic band Pere Ubu and a key figure in the music scene out of Cleveland, Ohio.  One of those present that is felt through the music and the intensity of those times.  Bertei, in this brief but powerful writing, captures the essence of discovering music, narcotics, and social drinking.  At the time, she was a fellow musician and a member of Peter's band, 'Peter and the Wolves.' There are no cliches, only the strong characterizations of Laughter and the introduction to the world of CBGB's - all captured by Bertei's stark but descriptive prose.  Ninety-three pages long and not a wasted word. Along with Patti Smith's "Just Kids," Richard Hell's "I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp," Chris Stamey's "A Spy in the House of Loud," Richard Lloyd's "Everything is Combustible." Duncan Hannah's "Twentieth-Century Boy, you can add "Peter and the Wolves" as another classic literature regarding the punk years.  

Thursday, October 29, 2020

"Godlis Streets" Photographs by David Godlis with Foreword by Luc Sante & Afterword by Chris Stein (Reel Art Press)

ISBN: 9781909526730

There have been hand-painted landscapes for centuries, but what the 19th and 20th centuries brought us is street photography. Like a drawing or painting, photography can capture the psychology or emotion of people in the picture. The difference between the two mediums of paintings/drawings and photography is that one is considered real, and the other is a representation by an artist. It can take days or even years to complete an oil painting, but snapping a photo can take seconds. Perhaps in the darkroom, another process occurs, where the photographer can manipulate the images or the darkness/lightness of that photo. Still, the immediate recording of an activity or history documented is a significant aspect of still photography. It's a medium that is like making punk rock music. One can know three-cords to write a song, and it takes an instant to capture an image with one's camera. It takes talent for sounds or an eye to making that image or song into art. Photographer David Godlis spent a great deal of time in 1970s New York to take pictures of musicians and fans in such punk locations such as CBGB's. 

 The urgency to capture a music scene as it happens also is a close relative to street photography. One sets the viewer's mind to photograph a poetic or surreal activity as it happens. Do photos lie? Perhaps, but the photographer's essence is to capture time at its most beautiful, profound, or at the very least, for amusement purposes. Godlis is not a Weegee type of street photographer. He is not out there to capture crime and murder scenes for the tabloid press. Godlis sets out to find images that one is pleasing to the eye. It gives some weight or presence to everyday people reflecting their inspirations and practices in an urban landscape that happens to be Manhattan and Boston. 

 In many of the images in this book, people look directly into Godlis's camera as he quickly snaps a shot. They have no time to react to the picture taken, and in fact, some look like they make contact with their eyes, but maybe they're thinking about their day as well. Or they have to keep a necessary appointment. The viewer of this book can make their narratives of who these people are. Still, all of them have that hardcore essence of living in a large and cosmopolitan landscape. 

 The juxtaposition of what looks like a businessman going to work but carrying a Playboy magazine or the two young women are approaching or going by an entrance that says "Service Gate." In that photo, a can and bottle of an empty beer bring up all sorts of narrations in these pictures. The black and white images are sharp, crisp, and I can feel the weather that day due to the clothing and the photographs themselves' mood. These photos essence sticks to one's mind. An awe-inspiring book of images that captures urban life as it happened.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

TAR BEACH: Life on the Rooftops of Little Italy by Susan Meiselas with Virginia Bynum & Angel Marinaccio (Damiani)


ISBN: 9788862087223

Tar Beach is a poetic term for rooftops of apartments, especially in this book of found or family photographs in the Manhattan area known as Little Italy.   Susan Meiselas, with the assistance of Virginia Bynum and Angel Marinaccio, articulate the joys of their neighborhood and the ability to have access to the roofs of their living area.  Here, they can pose for family portraits, sun themselves during the summer, even having a hose placed so one can cool off with a stream of water.  

Little Italy is now called Nolita.  The neighborhood between Canal Street and E. Houston Street, as well as Lafayette Street and The Bowery. Martin Scorsese was raised in this neighborhood and wrote a very brief but moving portrait of the importance of The Tar Beach in this part of the world.  Scorsese comments on the song by Carole King and Gerry Goffin "Up On the Roof" (1962) about the importance of a space that is much needed from the cramped and small apartments below the roof. 

The book is about the quiet moments of experience where family and neighbors gather and a location of solitude to be away from family. The beauty of such existence is often imagined or portrayed in films and literature.  This book gives proof of such an enlightened presence. "Tar Beach" is a bittersweet (like all memories) of life in Little Italy, with commentary on photographs and the world at the time.  It is a book of somewhat great importance for those who live or lived in Little Italy and a reminder that a city's history must never be forgotten.  -Tosh Berman

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Book Musik - "Sweet Dreams: From Club Culture to Style Culture, the Story of the New Romantics" by Dylan Jones (Faber & Faber)


Book Musik 032 – Sweet Dreams: From Club Culture to Style Culture, the Story of the New Romantics by Dylan Jones

 "Sweet Dreams: From Club Culture to Style Culture, the Story of the New Romantics" by Dylan JonesTosh and Kimley discuss Sweet Dreams: From Club Culture to Style Culture, the Story of the New Romantics by Dylan Jones. The 80s are back! Whether or not this makes you cringe, it was nevertheless an interesting era of Thatcherism, gender fluidity, rampant consumerism, and a hugely creative group of young people looking to conquer the world. This book goes well beyond the superficial veneer of the big hair, the big shoulder pads, and the hyper-stylized MTV videos. Jones gives us a seriously in-depth look at the nucleus of the scene in England as well as contextualizing it in the broader social and political sphere, not just in England but throughout the world. No haircut is left unexamined!

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Friday, October 2, 2020

BOOK MUSIK 031 - Suicide's "Suicide (33 1/3) by Andi Coulter


Book Musik 031 – Suicide’s Suicide (33 1/3) by Andi Coulter

Suicide's Suicide 33 1/3 book coverTosh and Kimley discuss Suicide’s Suicide by Andi Coulter from the 33 1/3 series. Suicide was a band comprised of Alan Vega on vocals and Martin Rev as the sole multi-instrumentalist. Spawned from the wreckage of 1970s New York, the band never seemed to find a wide audience but those in the know who were lucky enough to have seen them live were the participants in a show that surely would not be forgotten. Typically described as an assault to the senses with a strong vibe of imminent violence, most people didn’t quite know what to make of them. But as so often happens with cult artists, their influence casts a wide net and continues to do so to this day.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17