Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Albums That Were Important To Me in 2002


2002 was when America opened up the Pandora Box concerning Iraq and other faraway places. We are, to this day, can't bring the evil spirits back into that box. Nevertheless, the world's anxiety brought three magnificent albums, and those three were made by veterans of the pop music world. At this point, I remember feeling a sense of shame that I loved these albums over Wilco's release of that year, for instance.  I pretty much ignored the newer artists for these old guys, yet, the music they were making was way more ahead of their time. 

Bryan Ferry's "Frantic" is one of his more astonishing recordings. Unexpectedly I didn't think this would be even an impressive Ferry album. I was wrong. It's a superb album with Ferry in all his strengths. Also, I presume that the album was recorded over a time or even years. Still, the recordings and songs were as fresh as my memory of hearing the first Roxy Music album. It sounded like 'now,' and for whatever reason, "Frantic" sounded contemporary in the right way. The Ferry originals are up there with his classic songs from the past. His two Dylan covers on the album, I think, are magnificent. The classic here is an Eno/Ferry tune, "I Thought." It captures the early Roxy, but also the haunting lyrics with even the sad music is something of great beauty. 

Looking at the present and forward at the same time is David Bowie's "Heathen." The album does have the post 9/11 mood, which I believing he was recording this album on that date. "Sunday," "A Better Future," and "Heathen (The Rays) are first-class Bowie tunes, and having Tony Visconti back in the production seat is also a plus for this late Bowie masterpiece. His cover of The Pixies "Cactus" is respectful to the original. And his beloved early idol, Legendary Stardust Cowboy's "I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship, is a goofy but incredibly romantic song. 

Most hardcore Sparks' fans feel that the Island Records era of Sparks is the masterpiece era, as well as "No. One Song in Heaven." "Lil Beethoven" is a masterpiece as well. Like Bowie, very much in the present, and their eyes on to the future.  In places, it reminds me of Steve Reich's music, but with a strong hip-hop overture and melodic tunes. Chamber pop but done in the 21st century. A masterpiece. Everything else released in 2002 was neither here nor there. Still, these three albums are influential works by artists with a beautiful history. 

Sundance Film Festival 2021 Q&A for The Sparks Brothers - festival.sunda...

My love for Ron Mael, Russell Mael, and Edgar Wright on their documentary "The Sparks Brothers." I'm in the film as well. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

January 30, 2021, by Tosh Berman


January 30, 2021

Last night I watched "Education" by Steve McQueen, part of his "Small Axe" series.  Although the show deals with race issues in London, it also struck a deep chord with me as I watched this specific episode.  Like the main character, due to racism, is sent off to a school for students who are "educationally subnormal." Although not for racial reasons, except that I came from a family of bohemian beatniks, I too was sent to an American version of a school that handles the "educationally subnormal." In other words, I was technically ruled by my previous school as an idiot. Like the main character in "Education," I too felt ashamed and embarrassed to be placed in a "special school." Did I need to go?

That's a question that can't be answered. I clearly was raised in a somewhat eccentric household. In the early 1960s, there was a vast separation between the Bohemian and the straight world. I was bused back and forth to this school. In actuality, it was a regular elementary school, but with some room set aside for the weirdo students. There were only a handful of classmates. One is David, who lacked any form of keeping attention on anything. The other child reminded me of Steve McQueen (the actor, not the director) because he wore gray sweatshirts and jeans and sometimes wore checkered button-down shirts that were obviously ironed every morning. He had a series of physical tics. There was a Japanese-American girl there who never spoke, even when spoken to by a teacher. And there were others, but I don't have a clear memory of them. 

Certainly, my sense of logic is totally different from others, who probably had a formal relationship to logical thought. And my math skills were horrific. My understanding of math is within my ten fingers. Anything beyond that is a total and endless mystery to me. Still, I never fully understood why I was placed in a special school. No one explained the reasons, nor did anyone sat me down with a proper talk.  I was simply was told by a school administrator that I should go there, and I did. Also, very rarely would a parent insist that there was something wrong with the set-up. Especially in the early 1960s, where authority had a firm hand in relaying your options in life. I never blamed my parents or anyone, really. However, I still knew the difference between regular school and this class I was sent to, due to what I presume is the reason I'm stupid. 

There are all sorts of stupid. Perhaps I did have a learning problem, but then again, one sees stupidity on a regular basis. Such as (as of this writing) the demonstration taking place at Dodger's Stadium by people who don't believe in vaccines. I may be off or even stupid, but I'm not insane like those people. If you are against taking a vaccine for public health reasons, OK, that's weird. But why would anyone want to stop people from getting a vaccine for themselves or their families at Dodger's Stadium? When you look at the big picture, my mistreatment from the school world is nothing. I will get over it, and the memory of the pain sometimes stings me to be treated in such a manner, but I feel I did well with my life.   On top of that, I became friends with the students in that special class.  In hindsight, there was nothing wrong with them. 

The Albums That Were Important To Tosh in 2001


2001 was the start of the 21st century, and it wasn’t a good way to start off the new season if you get my drift. I have been OK, but overall, it’s the downfall that continues and never ends. 9/11, Iraq War, American torture, Bush era, Obama unable to shift the bad mood, and then Trump and the virus to top it all. Still, the year 2001 had some odd and strange albums. And I only listened to these albums when they came out. Pulp’s “We Love Life” is orchestrated perfection with flourishes of darkness. Produced by Scott Walker was a listener’s addiction. 

What I discovered that year was the ‘hype’ band, or whatever they were, Fischerspooner. Electro-pop, but with a strong visual aspect, and I first heard of them because they played in a gallery.  I even saw them, but I have very little memory of their performance for some reason. To me, they are very vague, yet, I played their first album a lot. And they even did a Wire cover!  I also discovered Jim O’Rourke that year, and my first album of his was “Insignificance.” Now here was a rabbit hole I could jump into. I love Jim’s sense of playfulness, but serious at the same time. His music is almost impossible to realistically define, but such an adventurer still made an impression on me. Also, his presence in Tokyo was very strong. I ran into this album in many record stores in the Shibuya and Shinjuku areas of the metropolis. 

The one album that totally knocked me out is Fantomas’ “The Director’s Cut.” This was my first step into the Mike Patton world, and I was thrilled to hear them covering film theme classics. Exceptional taste, and done in a bold and in-your-face manner. How could I not resist!

Friday, January 29, 2021

January 29, 2021, by Tosh Berman


January 29, 2021

Usually, but frankly, not always, I hear a voice as I'm about to drift off into sleep. Mostly in the morning hours, as I struggle to get back to sleep, and I'm about to go under, I hear "Tosh!" In my memory, it's either my wife or mom calling out to me. When it is not a voice calling me, I hear a loud bang. Both times startles me back to the awakened world, and it takes me a few seconds to realize that the voice or the banging in my head is part of a dream. Although I recognize my wife's voice, it has an echo effect, doesn't sound l like real life. It's almost like it's coming from another world. The truth is, my wife has always been asleep by my side. 

French psychiatrist Jules-Gabriel-Francois Ballarger was the first to write about this condition in 1840. He studied the hypnagogic state, which is the stage between wakefulness and sleep. I have experienced sleep paralysis, which is when you are awakened but can't move or speak. My memory of that state is like going through levels of an awakened life, but not instantly. Sometimes I have a lucid dream, a dream where you realize you are aware of your dreams. As a teenager, I had the sensation of being dragged out of bed by some invisible force. I remember sleeping with my girlfriend at the time, and I would hold onto her so I won't be easily pulled away. Or I had a hallucination of a shadowy figure in the darkroom, and soon as I gather my senses, it will disappear. 

One thing consistent in my life is feeling like I lead two separate lives—one in the awakened world and the other in the world of sleep. My dreams are so intense and textural that I recall newspaper headlines, original melodies of songs, detail on clothing, as well as sharp observations of buildings and rooms. I often dream of traveling, and it is always the same cities. London, Tokyo, Paris, and Manhattan. I dream of the town I live in, Los Angeles, but it often turns into Tokyo. Also, I tend to be naked in a crowd of young people. Usually, I'm trying to sleep at a very active party or in bed with several people. It sounds sexual, but it is often me trying to sleep among the action. 

I'm often tired during the day, and I need to nap around 2 in the afternoon. When I sleep in the afternoon, it's good and deep sleep. Rarely do I dream, or I'm not aware of having dreams in the daylight. The night, of course, is a different matter. As I turn the lights off and try to fall asleep, I often see spots behind my closed eyes. It's like my eyelids are a movie screen, and they are showing some abstract films. The scientific term is phosphenes: sparkles, lines, or geometrical patterns that show up when you're awake but eyes closed. 

It's the auditory effects that I find most disturbing. Besides hearing my name being called out, I hear doorbells (my actual doorbell ring), the telephone ringing outside the bedroom, and so forth. I dream, therefore I exist. 

Albums That Were Important to Tosh in 2000


The year 2000 sounded like being in the future, but I was very much in the present time of my memory. For me, nothing mega happened music-wise that year. Still, due to Scott Walker's "Pola X" soundtrack, I was introduced to the voice of Smog ( Bill Callahan) and liked "Dongs of Sevotion." Through my wife, I was seduced by Peaches and saw her live around this time as well. Her electronic 'in-your-face' lyrics and music appealed to my aural and visual pleasure. The moody Goldfrapp reminded me of Portishead, and I liked their take on pop as a mood piece, but melodically beautiful. Johnny Cash's "American III: Solitary Man" had his version of Nick Cave's amazing "The Mercy Seat." I love Cash's minimal take of the song, and with the Liberace flourishes by Benmont Tench on piano. It only lasts a few seconds, but I got excited just waiting for that part in the song/recording. Ute Lemper is a German theatrical singer. Leading toward a Lotte Lenya vibe but open to different types of music. "Punishing Kiss" is an amazing album. She arranged to have Tom Waits, Nick Cave, The Divine Comedy, Philip Glass, Elvis Costello, and the amazing Scott Walker to record and write songs for this album. What can go wrong? Nothing. "Streets of Berlin, music by Glass, is a stunning Cabaret style haunted piece of work. Also, Scott Walker's "Scope J" is an essential Scott music.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

January 28, 2021, by Tosh Berman

 January 28, 2021

Satisfaction is not guaranteed. It never is, you know? I feel like I have studied Elvis for ages, and it never comes knocking on one’s door. I had to get in the car and drive. Where? I never cared for direction, and I let the wind carry me wherever it blows.  Some days I feel like I have been hanging out for centuries. The old neighborhood is changed. There used to be a cafe that served jelly donuts with a side of peanut butter, but now there’s a vacancy sign on the front door. I don’t go in; no one does. I used to sit on their patio and count backward from the number 500.  I wished that they have let me meet you. When one is attracted to another, it always feels like it’s a mistake. Not like I forgot to turn off the gas oven type-of-mistake, but the kind that is noticed very little, but the important people in one’s life notices. It’s embarrassing. I just have to leave, but before I do, may I bow toward you. Respect is lacking. When I was young, we spit in the palm of our hand and then shake. To share body fluids is a criminal activity these days. I felt comfort when I think in the present; fear for the future and the past is spent. There’s a garden, no, no, no.  - for Billy Mackenzie. 

Yves Klein: Japan


"Yves Klein: Japan

Text by Terhi Génévrier-Tausti, Denys Riout. (DILECTA)

I love this book because it deals with my two favorite subject matters: Yves Klein and Japan. In a manner, it's the same subject matter.  The book focuses on Klein's trip to Japan to study Judo, a passion of his, even before doing art. Both of his parents were painters, and, interestingly, he marks himself in a different interest. Eventually, he does focus on art, but his passion for leaving France to another world is a curiosity that an artist usually shares. Once he reaches Japan, he is concerned about organizing an exhibition for his parent's artwork and focusing on his Judo studies. 

The heart of "Yves Klein Japan" is that it's a scrapbook of his time in Tokyo and other cities. Told in a chronicle order of time in relying on the people he met and Japan's sights. He arrived in 1952 and stayed in the country for 15 months. There are photographs of travel documents, souvenirs he purchased, handwritten letters to his parents, the French Government to secure a visa in Japan, as well as correspondence and art he made for friends on postcards. To travel to Japan in the 1950s after the war was made only by the few, and it must have been a strange world to visit. Like all first-time visitors to Tokyo, one is struck by the neon lights at dusk and night, and to this day, it's exactly the same landscape.  

Klein also visited the island of Oshima, which is a few hours away from Tokyo. I stayed on this island for three-weeks, during an art festival. There is very little information in English about this island, which has an active volcano. Klein comments to a friend on a postcard how surreal the landscape is around the volcano area. This is the cliche statement to make when one visits such a place, but it is also 100% true. The starkness of the area around the volcano is colorless in a sense but very livid in its black and gray rocks that surround the area. It's the opposite of Klein's later work and his interest in colors. I feel such foreign earth must have made an impression on his aesthetic in later years. It's very much the opposite of his art, but there is a similar texture and heat issue. Klein looked at colors and fire as a spiritual aspect of life. Although this is more of natural science, it does convey a brutal spirituality in itself. 

Judo is a sculpture in action. It is also a ritual art with rules and boundaries. Klein's work was also in the same mode when he did his performances and even the music he wrote for his first symphony, where it's one-note for 20 minutes and then silent for the next 20. The ritual in his work, I think, came from his visit to and study of Japanese culture—specifically Judo, of course. 

I'm such a Japanophile that I love to hear Westerners' first approach and visit to Japan. "Yves Klein Japan" hits that spot for me, as well as his personal observations of the cities and countryside of this part of Asia. One's culture or work is never an island in itself. It feeds from travel, thinking, and practice. Klein was a great artist and whose work is pretty magnificent. I don't think his contemporary art presence would have been the same if not for this trip to Japan. So, the physical objects are his art and this book, as well as Klein's instructional book Les fondements du Judo. "Yves Klein Japan" is an enchanting book.  

Albums Released in 1999 That's Important to Tosh


t's fascinating to know myself and how much I wasn't into contemporary releases for 1999. As we approached the 21st-century, I found comfort with Bryan Ferry's rather conservative arrangements of classic songs from the 20th-century "As Time Goes By" and Bowie's return to songcraft "Hours." What struck me about these albums by my music idols is how much they aged. The first time I realized that these artists are now approaching senior-age or middle-age, and their music reflects that adventure. Through them, I lost interest in "Youth." The other release of that year of interest to me is Sonic Youth's "Goodbye 20th-Century" and making music by John Cage, Yoko Ono, Cornelius Cardew, George Maciunas, Christian Wolff, and others. Fluxus meets Avant-rock! Scott Walker's soundtrack album "Pola X" has the most beautiful incidental music by Scott with lush orchestration. Also, songs by Sonic Youth and Smog. I know it sounds odd, but this was really my first introduction to Sonic Youth and especially Smog. He struck me as a middle America Scott! "Pola X" is not the easiest music to find, but I strongly recommend it. Especially for those who like the early Scott solo albums. It's Scott of "Tilt," but it also looks back to his melodic work as well. Essential.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

January 26, 2021, by Tosh Berman

My favorite writers tend to encounter with the culture around them. Robert Benchley, who I have mentioned before in other essays, wrote a regular column about the absurdness of everyday life. He made the usual into something exotic, which stays in my mind as I do my writings. Isolation is useful for some writers, but some can do their work in the heat of the upheaval or in times of great distress. I tend to need both the vacancy of an empty and quiet room, as well as the roar of the public world. 

I have the romantic notion of a writer working from his bed in the middle-of-the-night and relying on nothing except memories and tea. Marcel Proust, of course, but also I have seen a series of photos of Yukio Mishima. Their writing hours were from Midnight to dawn. Vampires at work, but not at play, at least not beyond their workspace. 

I don't have the energy to write at night because I'm either drinking, eating, watching a film, or thinking about what nightmares lay ahead of me. I tend to do my work before even my first cup of coffee. I first look at the news, and then I study the calendar's current day to see if there is anything important that happens historically or someone born on this particular date. I meditate on the words and images in front of me until I write my first sentence. Afterward, it is like being a passenger on a train going from point A to B. I don't look back and move forward. Failure and success don't mean that much to me other than the journey itself.  

Albums That Were Important To Me in 1997


Economically, I live in two states: we have money, or we have no money. In 1997, we had enough money for a down payment for a house. For the first six months or so, we spent our time looking for a house to buy. Twice a week, we would tour stranger’s homes to find that perfect combination for a place for us to work, live, and hide away from the world. Work and live, yes we saw the world was very much just outside the front door. Still, we were going to Japan back and forth to visit family, a trip to London as well. Around this time, I decided to start up a press of my own, TamTam Books. I became obsessed with Boris Vian and became his American publisher. 

Beyond that, I was haunting down CD-singles from Pulp because they had the most astounding remixes of their music. Their album “This Is Hardcore” is a masterpiece. It is a point-of-no-return type of record. Senior swingers, the decaying of life, and one had to “Party Hard” to get through middle-aged life difficulties. Everything about this album is perfection as practiced as an art. 

The other albums that impacted me that year are Tindersticks’ “Curtains,” which contained their sophisticated approach to orchestration and life. Again, it reminds me of Cave and the Bad Seeds, but with a more sophisticated approach to their subject matter, which is broken romances. The album also has a duet with Anne Magnuson. Blur’s “Blur” is an album of not turning back as well. Here they embrace a much stronger vision of an inner-world of some demons. I heard “Beetlebum” in Japan, and I thought this is one of the most remarkable songs ever. I loved the slow built-up, that reminds me of a Lennon Beatle-era psychedelic song if they had Jimmy Page in the band instead of George. A terrific album as well. 

Bowie’s “Earthling” continue to embrace the new electronic sounds of England, and although not as ambitious as his previous album “Outside,” it still had great songs on it, such as the classic “I’m Afraid of Americans.”  The one album that I found endearing and knowing that this will be the last time I will buy his work is John Lydon’s first solo album, “Psycho’s Path.”  There is a track on it called “Sun,” which is terrific. I think it’s up there with the best of the original PIL albums.  1997 was a significant change for me, and I think the albums above also expressed a shift. Brit-Pop was still around but turning sour in a very interesting manner.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Albums That Were Important to Tosh in 1996


As far as I can remember (or tell), there were only two albums of importance for me in 1996. Suede's "Coming Up" and Tricky's "Pre-Millennium Tension." On the surface, they're from the same country but seem apart. The truth is that both artists capture a mood or tension in modern life in the UK. "Trash" from the Suede album is an amazing single/song. I still play it to this day. And it is also interesting to point out, Suede went through a major change from losing Bernard Butler (guitarist/co-songwriter) and getting a new guitarist/co-songwriter). They became more forceful and focused. Not every album by them became great, but what looked like post-glam seedy glamour was/is actually a new approach to pop music. Tricky's second (or third) album was essential listening for me at the time—especially "Tricky Kid" off that album. More was going on that year, but I really would need a week to figure out what 1996 meant to me. - Tosh Berman

Sunday, January 24, 2021

January 24, 2021, by Tosh Berman


January 24, 2021

I just started to read the biography on Charles Addams by Linda Davis, and it brings me memories of being a fan of his work when I was a child. I'm trying to figure out how I got into him, and for sure it was before the TV series "The Addams Family." I liked the Addams Family, but I was more of a fan of his other stuff. Such as his work in the office working world and just the everyday absurdity of life as it is played out in Addams' mind and drawings. It seems he was a boyfriend to Greta Garbo and quite a ladies' man. Lately, I have been reading up on the playboys of the western world from decades ago. I'm attracted to that world because I don't feel I have ever participated in that landscape. I'm one of those fellows who sees a girl, and my technique is to wait for them to approach me. I figured if I sit there long enough, eventually, they will notice me. 

I did a lot of that in High School, and if you find the right spot, you can just sit there and wait. School was never a significant interest for me, except for the quad steps that lead to the lunch area because that is where you will meet people. The girls I met a school were and still are important to me. I do keep in contact with some, but there are some that I lost touch with, and it seems no one knows where they are or if they even exist on this planet. There is a danger to look back because one doesn't see the luggage that comes with it. 

So, yeah, Charles Addams. As a music lover, there is a cartoon where the Receptionist for a business notices at 5pm that the little musicians leave to go home from their muzak studio on the office wall.  It reminds me as a kid watching Lassie on TV, and my dog Rover would bark at Lassie on the small screen. He also went to the back of the TV set to see if there was an opening to get inside the set. For my dog, that was logical thinking. It was the first time I noticed an animal thinking logically about a situation. There's a dog in the box, and therefore…  

Addams caught those moments with The Addams Family as well as others in his work. It's like starting on ground zero and then using your knowledge to understand what's happening at the moment. There is something very Wittgenstein about Charles Addams. 

Albums That Were Important to Tosh in 1995


These six albums were a significant find for me in 1995. Scott Walker's "Tilt" is a masterpiece. They are basically sound pieces with singing. And the lyrics were on another level as well. There was no going back home after this album. It took no prisoners. Bowie with his "Outside" project was also his first real avant-pop album. There are the Side B recordings from "Low and "Heroes," but this was very much a forward approach to music from David, Eno, and others. I was so excited to hear this album, and I wasn't disappointed.

I discovered Pulp's "Different Class" while crossing the Shibuya Tokyo Station. There was a giant video screen on the side of the building, and they were playing the video to "Common People." I immediately went over to the HMV music store to hear the album. It was love at first listening. The lyrics, Jarvis's voice, the musicians, arrangements, and the superb production from Chris Thomas, this is an instant classic.

The Tindersticks' second album was a beautiful relationship between orchestration and voice. It reminds me a bit of The Bad Seeds, but more soulful.

The first Elastica album was another opening to the current British world, and I remember loving this album. The same goes for Tricky's first album, which introduces me to a mixture of dark sounds with rap. The combination of the sound of dread, mixed with Tricky's moody vocals and the sweetness of Martina Copley-Bird's singing, was an incredible mix. I love how he embraced the experimental with the low-level groove. 1995 was an excellent year for music.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

January 23, 2021, by Tosh Berman


January 23, 2021

When I worked at Book Soup, Jeanne Moreau was in the store, looking at books and wandering around the store. As I watched her from a distance, as I was behind the bookstore counter, it reminded me of her walking around Paris in the Louis Malle film Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (Elevator to the Gallows). She occasionally picked up a book to look at its cover, open it, read silently, and then placed it exactly where she found it. It took me a few minutes, but then I notice that a cameraman was shooting her while she walked around the store. One needs permission to shoot in the store, and it was my duty as an employee to either stop the shooting or tell the manager. On the other hand, it is Jeanne Moreau in one's store, and who am I to tell her to stop filming. 

I didn't approach her or the cameraman, but I walked toward her like I was looking for a customer's book. You see, I can also act or perform in front of a camera, which I may have in this situation, but in my head. Jeanne may have been thinking of the same scene in the Malle film, and I'm her partner, following her in the streets of Paris. It's odd dancing in private, in front of customers buying and looking at books. None recognize her, and clearly, they didn't know what I was thinking or doing. At this moment, I wanted to put on the soundtrack to "Elevator to the Gallows" by Miles Davis. If I did that, would she catch on that she's discovered filming in the store? Or someone there recognizes her? 

She eventually went out of the store and looked at our display window. The cameraman shot her through the window, and Jeanne paid attention to the books, but then her eyes showed boredom and moved on down the street. The cameraman left the store as well, following Jeanne on the road. I stayed in the store and was behind the counter again. 

"Out of the Way: Later Essays" by Colin MacInnes


“Out of The Way: Later Essays” by Colin MacInnes (Martin Brian & O’Keeffe Ltd.) 1979

After a dental surgery in Pasadena, I found myself in a used bookstore, trying to forget what I went through. I came upon a book of essays by London-orientated writer Colin MacInnes.  He wrote "Absolute Beginners," which captured the modern London of the 1950s. One of the first books regarding youth as a culture on its own and the racial interactions that took place on the streets of London. A truly remarkable novel, and now I found "Out of the Way, a collection of articles he wrote for various English publications. 

MacInnes is an impressive figure because he wrote about race issues and being an incredible observer of those eras' political, art, and pop world. He was born in 1914 and died in 1976. His father, James Campbell McInnes, was a classical singer, and his mother, Angela Thirkell, was a novelist. MacInnes was very much a professional essayist who wrote about British politics, colonialism, crime/law, sexuality (he was an out bi-sexual), the visual arts, and the cancer that eventually killed him. He also observed the difference between high and low art and recognized that they came from the same pool.  MacInnes also realizes that there is not a massive difference between the 'Coppers' and criminals. He breaks down the jail system and what happens when one gets arrested. 

Wrongly, the book is out-of-print. It needs to be reprinted as well as the entire Colin MacInnes bibliography. Not a major writer, but an important one in that he was in the right place and time. Also, the fact that he wrote about teenagers and youth when he was way in his mid-40s. The outsider approach (due to age) gave his books a superior reflection with a small distance. 

Albums That Were Important to Tosh in 1994


1994, I think I left Beyond Baroque and started to work full-time at Book Soup. And I stayed there until 2012. Having Tower Records across the street from the store got me into the music world again. I'm still buying reissues of Gainsbourg and started to obtain a strong Boris Vian fixation. Still, it was British music that made an impression on me. Portishead, I think, similarly hit everyone: DJ-related, Noir sounds, and bluesy, with a strong movie soundtrack feel. I loved their sound and the sense of a dreamy landscape in front of me. Pulp was another discovery that year. "His 'N' Hers" captured that kitchen sink feeling of British literature, cinema, and theater. Jarvis Cocker and company had such a strong character that comes through their music. I also loved the painted cover portrait of the band. Frank Black's second solo album, "Teenager of the Year" (I love that title), I think, is a remarkable work. I think it has 23 short songs, and all of them had great depth for me. Divine Comedy returns with an album with a great song, "The Booklovers," which lists every author and just a remarkable piece of baroque-pop. I was impressed with Morrissey's "Vauxhall and I," which is a remarkable piece of work from the grump king. If you look back on 1994, I think most contemporary music lovers will find something totally satisfying—a strong music year.

Friday, January 22, 2021

January 22, 2021, by Tosh Berman


January 22, 2021

I have great admiration for people like Porfirio Rubirosa and Malcolm McLaren. Two hustlers on the make. Both would be OK to sell you anything you desire, and if you don't wish for anything, they'll find something for you to desire to. Malcolm has ideas and schemes to invent a culture of some sort.  Mr. Rubirosa basically just wanted to drive fast cars, play polo, and screw rich women. Rubirosa said, "I will risk everything to avoid being bored," but I think McLaren would follow that role in life.  

When Rubirosa was hard, Truman Capote reported to have seen him in this state, and he said 11 inches. "Eleven-inch café-au-lait sinker as thick as a man's wrist." A man asked him for advice in sexual manners. Rubirosa told him, "If you are going to have a hot date, then jerk off in the afternoon so that it takes you longer at night. You'll be a hero!" He wasn't born wealthy, nor had he ever had a full-time job; still, money found him. Rubirosa said, "Most men's ambition is to save money. Mine is to spend it." He married five times, and two of his wives were Doris Duke and Barbara Hutton.

Both Porfirio and Malcolm had plans for the present, never for the future, and the Past was used for either inspiration or personal connections. McLaren had a vision for himself in a world that he could create. Rubirosa was satisfied until another beauty came upon him or his finances dried up. The thing is that they successfully made their own identities and managed to live a full and argument ally a productive life. I think of these two men, and then I think of those who invaded the Capital a few weeks ago.

These are not men and women of great ambition, but just fulfilling a desire that can't be filled. I have met some of these people throughout the years. They are always got the short end of the stick. They're very proud to be an individual or that they can think for themselves. Still, the truth is they are totally ground meat to men like McLaren and Rubirosa. Even someone like Steve Bannon knows how to cradle stupid people's egos and somehow get the loose change from their pockets.  

Still, there are those who have no talents in social grace, understand or reading another person's moods or desires. Sometimes they're naturally sweet, but the mechanics of politics and power are either too gross or have a total lack of skills in dealing with people of that world. The frustration adds up when they are ignored, and why shouldn't they be? What do they have to offer? 

When they realize they have no hope or skills, they believe conspiracies why they are placed in such a position of no power, no economic strength, or the ability to see their creative talents. All they can do is complain, and feel resentment toward a world that has no interest in them.  The beauty of Malcolm and Rubirosa is that they really don't care what people think of them. Their game is to enjoy life and not allow a moment to go sour. Some people just dwell on the sourness of life, and eventually, it shows in their behavior and, ultimately, their fears. Insecurity is like a virus. If you hang out with them, you too will get it.