Thursday, February 23, 2017

February 24, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Shinkenshan Train ( Tokyo - Kyoto)

February 23, 2017

On the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) on the way from Tokyo to Kyoto.  There is something so civilized when one travels on a train compared to a flying machine.  For one, I can watch the landscape unfold onto another world.  It's a leap into the future as the Shinkansen moves at the speed of  200 mph.   From my window, I can see Mount Fuji, which is a ghost mountain.   Osamu Dazai wrote this amazing short story about Mount Fuji, "One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji,"  and how it is so prominent in one's life.   The last scene of the story is when tourists come upon the narrator (who we presume is Dazai) and ask him to take a photograph of them with Mount Fuji in the background.  He gave them time to pose, and then without them knowing,  Dazai focused the camera upward on taking a  photo of the mountain, leaving the tourists out of their photograph.   Sometimes a location is even greater than the individual.

February 23, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

February 22, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

When I want to feel someone, not like me, I go to the Ginza district in Tokyo.   I like to go window-shopping and imagine that I'm purchasing objects that I can't realistically afford.  I have always been attracted to music shops that sell not only CD's but also instruments that I can't play.  I live in an imaginary world where I'm a master musician.  The great thing about Tokyo is that there are endless things to see, and therefore worlds that one can enter, without the knowledge of that world.  I'm also fond of the neon lighting in the Ginza.  Soft compared to the harsh light of such locations as Shinjuku or Shibuya.

Ginza to me represents 1960s gangsters hanging out in a bar.  I only know this due that I have watched many comedies as well as gangster films that take place in the Ginza.  Whatever this is true or not is not something I'm concerned about.  It's similar to going to Disneyland and being a concern if Mickey Mouse exists or not in real life.  I'm blessed in the sense that I never care about the reality of the place or situation, but what is important is how I imagine the place.

I leave Tokyo today for Kyoto.   I often think that there is a connection between the two cities.   Again, my knowledge is only attached to what I think - it could be just the name "Kyoto" that brings up images in my head.   I'll let you know when I get there.

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

February 20, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

The essence of failure is the self-knowledge of going down the drain, and there is nothing to hold on to.  There is a gentleman that I read about here by the name of Gensiro Kawamoto, who owns landmark property here in Tokyo as well as throughout Japan, and Hawaii extending to California.  He is one of the wealthiest men in Japan, and according to sources, he only pays in cash, and never credit.  He is one of the very few who has no debt.  One can see his logo throughout the Ginza (the Beverly Hills of Tokyo) on the side of buildings.  "Marugen" always stands for Mr. Kawamoto.   He rarely does interviews (an actual billionaire has no need for the popular press), and he rarely sleeps.  Perhaps four hours a night, and his only interest is the making of the deal.  He's addicted not to power, but the gamble of obtaining property.  There are 60 buildings in Japan with his name on it. 

Gensiro Kawamoto

Gensiro Kawamoto's shoes

Most of Kawamoto's buildings are leased to various hostesses bars, and entertainment centers throughout Shinjuku, Ginza, and Roppongi.  The essence of Tokyo, at least to my eyes, is Gensiro Kawamoto.  I often imagine my life with such individuals as Kawamoto and realize that I don't have the talent or brains to follow through life in such a challenging manner.   My weakness disgusts me to no return.   Here I imagine life within the Stephen Bannon world, and he's just an ambitious fly to a bigger piece of excrement.   I have been reading on Julius Evola's text, or what I can find on the Internet.  Bannon often drops his name in conferences at various right-wing think tanks.  This Italian Futurist and one-time member of DADA is the key to the entrance of what ills us today.   The problem is the President of the United States is a man who doesn't read, yet Bannon is an excellent reader on many levels.   I suspect Kawamoto to be in the same league as Bannon.  Ego is the downfall and the men behind the curtain rule the chicken coop. 

Julius Evola

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 19, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

February 19, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

As I write, I'm like a fuse that's burning, and once the explosion hits, the world I know will be torn into pieces of flesh and metal.   I can tell things are bad because people are avoiding me like I'm the wrong reporter in the White House press conference.   Ever since yesterday, I have been printing out images of Stephen Bannon from the internet.  I'm convinced that he's a murderer.   I saw the man once, the one who caused my father's death.   Ever since then, I wished for him to rot outward to his inners.  Bannon looks like a man that is rotting by the second.  Like a hanging banana left too long on the kitchen counter, Banner is clearly decaying in front of my eyes.  If you poke too hard, he will explode.  It makes me sick to my stomach that I approach him about helping to build a statue in the President's honor.  I now want to burn my plans and scatter the ashes into Bannon's whiskey and water.

On the other hand, it's a beautiful day in Tokyo.  I spent some quality time in Shinjuku.  I borrowed a jacket from a member of the family here, and there is something fantastic when you leave an over-warmed room into the cold air.  I never felt so clean before.  I like to lose myself in the crowd.  It's the only time that I can forget about myself, and become this force.   I even enjoy the Far Right in the Shibuya Station.  At least four vans followed an all-black van that looked like they had metal fencing around the windows.  On the top of the vehicle are four huge loud speakers.  Not sure if it's a tape they are playing or an actual person in the car with a microphone.  Free speech being allowed, but in a volume where one can hear it for miles.    If Trump were smarter, he would have a series of these type of trucks driving through rural and urban centers.  He can stay at Mar-a-Lago with "the set," and at the same time, Trump can have these trucks plow through the countryside.  Japan always have better ideas than the West.

Today I will plan for my future.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February 18, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

February 18, 2017 (Tosh's Diary)

I must have my revenge.   I can see now, that I'm in Tokyo, that the moment has risen for me to strike.  I have missed the opportunity on a continuous basis for my entire life.  I'm having a series of drinks in Harajuku bar, all by myself.   I'm not drunk.  In actuality, I'm quite sober.  The situation is, every February 18, I see appearances of my late father.  I'm used to seeing him in Los Angeles, but it's odd that this spirit has followed me to Tokyo.    I was walking in Shinjuku last night, and I noticed this foreigner in a large hat and fur coat following me.  I ducked into a Disk Union shop in hopes of avoiding this figure.  I was going over the Beatles Japanese pressings of various Sgt Pepper covers when I looked up and saw the foreign fellow. It was my father.  In these type of situations, I pretend not to notice him.  When I looked up again, he was gone.

I have accepted that I had these visions and learned to live with them.  Still, the big difference is that I'm in a foreign country - a different culture, and still, there is my father in front of me.  What bothers me the most is that I feel that he's giving me a message of some sort.  Throughout my life, I ignored any signs of bitterness on my part.  The truth is, I'm very bitter.   I live my life as if it's daytime.  Still, the night has pretty much taken over my soul.  

I'm a fiction writer, and I take daily life as a source for my work.  It's the foundation where my ideas come from.   The most traumatic thing that ever happened was my dad's murder.   In fact, I guess it was an accident, but I never accepted it as just an accident.  Because the way the case came out, it clearly is about a  man avoiding his crime, and where he is now, or if even he's alive is like a mist that surrounds me on a daily basis whenever I allow my mind to wander without any censorship or constrained in any fashion.

I walk around Tokyo because it clears my head.  I'm not really a tourist, but more of a person who puts a jacket on, and leaves the front entrance of a building, without a thought which direction to go.  If the winter wind is going a direction, I just follow that force without a thought in my head.   Stephen Bannon has been pretty much in my brain.  It was last night that I realize he looks like the guy who killed my father in a drunken so-called car accident.  Much younger then, but now he has the face of a man who has enjoyed his poison for many years.  It's odd today that I saw two weddings.  One Japanese style and the other western.  It seemed like theater.  I can never penetrate the difference between what I consider to be something real or a staged performance.   I wander now, like forever.

Friday, February 17, 2017

February 17, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

February 17, 2017

People call me Speed Racer here.  Not for the wheels I have, or my wide dark eyes, but due that I think fast on my feet.  I consider myself a very literate gentleman, yet, I can't read a thing in Japan.  In America, I'm all about words, but here in Japan, it's all visual to me.   I feel disconnected from my language and world, which is a splendid thing.  I'm forced to use another side of my brain here.  The funny thing is I speak Japanese to the people behind the coffee counter without realizing it.  When you need to communicate something or show desire, language is not a problem.   

I have nothing to read here except my writing, which to be honest, is boring.   I went to Kinokyuna in Shinjuku and looking around the store; I found an interesting writer by the name of Yoshiyuki Junnosuke.  It seems Yukio Mishima liked him, and Donald Richie, who is a great expert on 20th century Japanese culture, wrote the introduction to his collection of short stories.  I have a great fondness for Showa era writers in Japan, which is another way of saying the 20th century.  Each decade or longer is always tied to the current Emperor.  It's kind of like we're in the Trump era now in the United States.   The year 2017 will always be confined by the presence of Trump in people's minds.   As for me, I'm a tad hurt that Steve (Bannon) never got back to me on the Trump statue project.  Whatever.  I will get over it.  Reading the first story in this book by Junnosuke is not bad.  Life will go on.

I'm still fighting jet lag, and my only conclusion is to go out of the house as much as possible.  The brisk cold air hitting my face makes me feel alive.  The dark cloud that follows me around is always two feet away from me.  I run fast, but it always catches up.  I'm very much a long distance runner.  I'll beat it.   Back to the book now. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 16, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

February 16, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

The lack of sleep makes Tokyo into a city of your mind.  To this day, I'm not sure if it actually exists.   With little sleep, I met two American friends who are visiting the dream capital of desire.  There is something superb about facing the cold air, when utterly exhausted.  The good thing is my fellow countryman are feeling the same thing.   There is a bar next to their businessmen's hotel that has an extensive vinyl selection as well as free drinks.  Why the drinks are free is a question that is not examined too thoroughly.   All three of us are heavily into vinyl.   The other two have never been to Tokyo before, so it was my responsibility to take them to the right spot.

Our first stop was RecoFan.  It's very similar to Amoeba Music in Hollywood in many ways, but smaller in size.  Still, it takes up the entire fourth floor of the building.  Austin is into punk and Ray is into hip-hop and jazz.  I like instrumental bands from the 1960s and have been looking for "The Shadows In Tokyo" LP for the last five or so years.  The thing is, when you expect to find something, you're not going to find it. But when the unexpected happens that is the 'gotcha" moment.  The Enka selection at RecoFan is pretty impressive.  For those who don't know, Enka is a post-war form of music that is very much like a version of Japanese blues but with beautiful orchestration and voice.   There is also at times, a killer electric guitar solo that appears out of nowhere.  It sounds like the guitar is crying.  That type of music hits the spot when you're dead tired, and all you are feeling is emotion.

I couldn't find shit for me, but my fellow companions found stuff that made their eyes pop out of their skulls.  Me, I'm more of the cool type. I try not to show emotion while shopping.   We then went down the block to the Disk Union.   This is a record store in Shibuya (also a few stores in Shinjuku) where each floor caters to the specific type of music.  Again, I wanted the Sixties vinyl, and that is on the third floor, and Ray wanted hip-hop which is in the fourth, and Austin for his punk taste is the fifth.  The basement is jazz, and we decided to meet there in one hour.   "The Shadows in Tokyo" is a very tough LP to find, and lady luck was not smiling down at me.   Meanwhile, Austin came to the basement with five or six 7" singles of various punk bands from his neighborhood back home, and I couldn't see Ray's face due to the various packages he was holding.

At this moment all three of us were confronted with a spiritual feeling of loss and abandonment.   Apparently, we needed to take the Ginza line to Asakusa to the Sensō-ji to renew our faith in chance.  Sensō-ji is Japan's oldest Buddhist temple, and the peaceful aspect is the marketplace leading up to the temple's steps.   This is also the location to get postcards to send back home, as well as various swords.  Since the others had two or three bags of vinyl, it was my responsibility to hold on to the swords.  I put one down my pants, which of course, I have to be very comfortable not to trip, and I carried the other two with both hands.   It's very difficult to walk down the marketplace with the swords because the physical space is very tight due to the large crowd that takes place here.   I did find one postcard here, that had a very nice colorful image of the temple surrounded by cherry blossom trees.  I addressed the card to Stephen Bannon in the care of the White House, Washington DC, telling him "wish you were here."

The three of us ended up in a beer hall, that has been in business since 1926.   All the waiters here are in their 90s, which gives it an old school charm.  As we drank beer, and eat sashimi, we still feel that time is not on our side.  I feel that once I close my eyes, and then reopen them, everything will be gone like it didn't exist.  That is the beauty of Japan.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 15, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan

Photograph by Tosh Berman
February 15, 2017

The only time I can catch up on some serious cinema is when I fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo.  Singapore Airlines without a doubt has the best film programming.  For instance, I can make a choice between the Tom Cruise "Jack Reacher 2" and "Suicide Squad."  Or due to the long plane flight, I can watch both.     Jared Lato's version of the Joker is nothing compared to Trump's taking on the Joker's characteristics.  President Trump reminds me a bit of "Suicide Squad," because he's much better than the film.  It's interesting that the execution producer of "Suicide Squad"  is Steven Mnuchin, the brand new Secretary of The Treasury.  The other thing I like to watch is the real-time map of the plane going over the Pacific ocean.   I once sat in my seat for 10 hours just glued in front of my own screen watching the Plane I'm on, leaving Los Angeles and eventually arriving in Narita.   

I loathe traveling.  I find it hard to believe that there are people out there that like to deal with their luggage.   I had to push my wife's luggage from one space to the next.  Once we got to our living space in Meguro, she opened up her luggage exposing four boxes of  Trader Joe's cereal brand.  My wife refuses to change her breakfast habit, even when traveling.   I find it insane that she can't find cereal in the local Japanese market here, but she insists on Trader Joe's cereal.   So what can I do, but push her luggage from there to here. 

I suffer from jet-lag which is something horrible. It makes my eyes hurt and of course the headache as well.  They say one should drink a lot of water on the flight, but I usually drink tons of white wine to get through the boredom.    In theory, this may not be the best thing to do, but alas  I have never turned down a free glass of wine on an international flight. 

I haven't been to Tokyo since 2015.  I feel like I'm greeting old friends.  I tend to hang out in the Meguro area of Tokyo, and I see the same shop people - the sake shop, the fish market, and the local coffee shop.  They know my face, and that I tend to disappear, but I always come back.   As I walked home from the local market tonight, I ran into a display of dolls. I'm told by a citizen of Meguro that this is a display to honor 'Girl's Day."   Which reminds me to write to Stephen Bannon to suggest that there should be a girl's day in the U.S.  I know I should give up on Bannon, but I can't help it.  There is something charming about the man.  We do share a love for Italian Futurist culture after all.  Surely something can make this relationship a total go for the both of us. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017 (Tosh's Diary)

February 13, 2017

I'm packing for my trip to Tokyo.  It's cold there.  Since I'm a hardcore California man of 60 years standing, I don't even own a jacket.  I'm   bringing a v-neck t-shirt so I can wear it over a regular long sleeve t-shirt, which of course, will be over a white cotton t-shirt.  And a scarf.  So three layers of T-shirts and scarf I think will be okay for temperatures around 50 degrees.  The plane ride will be 11 hours long, and 17 hours in the future.  Jet-lag is not an option.  I have to stay alerted for the entire trip.  Although, the neon lights of the Ginza bathes my eyes in such a fashion that I become sleepy.   There is something about Japan that makes me feel cozy.  For instance, there is no central heating in most Japanese homes.  To get out of your comfortable bed to pee in the middle of the night is a shock to the body.  First, it's cold outside your bedding, and then when you're in the hallway, it's 10 degrees lower for some reason.  The saving grace is the freezing toilet room, but alas, the toilet is heated.  Most if not all Japanese toilets are heated.  It sounds silly, but very much needed in the middle of the night. That, in a nutshell, is a typical middle-of-the-night schedule in a Japanese home.  Right now I'm projecting this, but if it is like the previous trips to Japan in the winter time, well, there should be no surprises.  Where I'm staying there is a washing machine, so I think I can just bring the three t-shirts, scarf, blue jeans, and tennis shoes.  Oh, maybe a pair of socks and shorts as well.  Then I'm set for my adventure.   Must remember to bring BOOKFORUM for the plane ride.  It's the only thing I can read on a plane.  And the size of the magazine is perfect.  It's sort of like a newspaper so one can use it as a napkin on one's lap while you're eating.  I don't know about you, but it's tough to eat in the cheap seats on a plane.  I'm left-handed, so it's always awkward to have someone near me during a meal.  And I tend to leave crumbs on my lap, so BOOKFORUM serves excellent service.  I can't wait until tomorrow.  Why can't tomorrow be now, and now be some other time?

Dennis Hopper "Colors, The Polaroids" Essay by Aaron Rose (Damiani)

ISBN: 978-88-6208-476-5 Damiani
Dennis Hopper did many things. Known as an actor, filmmaker, artist, art collector, and photographer. His strongest fields for me, is his acting, photographs, and of course, his art collection. The two that stand out is his great sense of the eye for art and his understanding of that medium, whatever it's paintings, colleges or sculpture. He's also a fantastic photographer. The various books that have come out for the last ten or so years are all pretty good. He was always in the right place and time, and his camera/eyes recorded those moments magnificently. 

I have lived in Los Angeles for the most of my life, and I have seen and lived among graffiti walls, side of buildings and sidewalks for my entire adult life. One thing that never goes away in Los Angeles is graffiti. I hate it. For one reason, I love architecture, and I like how walls and concrete look like just a wall or a piece of concrete. The naked texture of the side of a wall is something of beauty to me. When someone paints on it, or use it as a canvas, I feel I'm cheated of the original vision of that structure. Writing this, I know I'm someone in the minority who sees graffiti, both as art and message board, as something of an eyesore for me. There are exceptions, of course, but 98% of the graffiti around Los Angeles is pretty depressing. Dennis Hopper felt another way about it.

"Colors The Polaroids" more likely were Dennis' research material of his making for the film he was about to make called 'Colors." The story of two LAPD cops dueling with the local street gangs. In preparation, Hopper went through his neighborhood of Venice California and elsewhere to document various gang graffiti. On a sociology level, graffiti is fascinating. It's a coded language within a particular group, as well as a message for other gangs. The act of covering up one's graffiti and replacing it with their writing has been a practice for decades. There is that, but Hopper is also looking at the graffiti as works of art, or paintings. As much as I loathe graffiti, there is clearly an aesthetic going on. It is a craft if not always an art. 

The Hopper book is interesting with the fact that he was recording these images for his film, but also a dual interest in it as painting. The way he photographs these walls - mostly shot closely and straight on, I can feel he loved the imagery of this world. Also that he used a Polaroid either means he wanted results right away and not wait for the images for a day or so (before digital photography of course), or he liked the instant playback and almost artless aspect of such a camera and its use. The truth is, the Polaroid is a highly aesthetic as well. It has its limitations, but that sometimes turns the artist onto that medium. Most of the writings on the side or wall have to be done quickly for their safety sake as well as not being caught by the cops or property owners - so in that sense, an instant camera serves the same purpose. You have one shot at it, and that's it. 

The introduction/essay by Aaron Rose is pretty good. For the hardcore Los Angeles citizen as well as being a fan of Dennis Hopper. Then the book is for you.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

"On The Natural History of Destruction" by W.G. Sebald (Notting Hill Editions)

ISBN: 978-1-907903-55-7 Notting Hill Editions
As a writer, W.G. Sebald is a guy with a bow and arrow and can take on a difficult subject, and hit a bullseye every time. He had the talent to look at his subject matter apparently, like a surgeon going into the operation room to do a complicated procedure, but he always comes through in the end. Normally Sebald is a fictional writer but through the eyes of a subjective journalist. It's his skill in laying out the landscape in his novels, and especially in these two essays, one on the bombings of various German cities, and the other on a controversial German writer, Alfred Andersch.

The brilliance of his essay (speech) on the bombings in different German cities is that he doesn't play the victim's card. He looks at them for what they are. A destruction that killed and disrupted many lives, but in the shadow of Hitler's horrible vision of the world. Through Sebald's descriptive writing, one can almost taste the misery and the essence of the hopelessness of it all. Hitler's goal was to bomb London. He would go into detail about how the flames would eat up the English capital in horror overtures. The irony is that it happened to his own country. The vision he brought to the world, didn't exactly worked out for him (or Germany).

The Alfred Andersch essay is fascinating, due to how Sebald, a fellow German, see this individual within the Nazi/World War II environment. Andersch is a writer I know nothing of, till I read Sebald's piece. It seems in certain circles and through his writing, he was the good moral German during the Nazi years. Sebald feels differently. In a critical and almost cold-like manner, he cuts into the Andersch myth of the good Nazi. Reading it, I'm struck by how the individual deals with the issue of morality and identity in a landscape that is both dangerous and quite evil. I think we at this moment and time, feel the same regarding a certain individual in the White House. It's hard not to read this book and not think of the destruction in Palestine, Libya, and other parts of the world.

The Notting Hill Edition of "On The Natural History of Destruction" is a beautifully designed and elegant book. Which makes the book even more compelling in how this devastating text is placed in such a seductive packaging.

Friday, February 10, 2017

"Before Pictures" by Douglas Crimp (The University of Chicago Press/Dancing Foxes Press)

ISBN 978-0-226-423456
In my youth, I subscribed to the October journal. I feel my main attraction to the journal was due to its design. Which is, to this day, the exact same thing. I like a magazine or journal that doesn't change. Saying that I haven't read it for 20 years or so, even though, it's an excellent publication of writers writing about things I'm interested in. One of those writers is Douglas Crimp. If his name was attached to an essay I would read it. 

"Before Pictures" is a book that I wouldn't expect from Crimp. It's very personal, and perhaps one of the best books from a gay perspective on New York City and its haunts. The book is centered on the fact that he curated a show called "Pictures" which was influential due it had Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman, and others. He was a critic who was/is interested in how the arts merge into pop culture. What I like about this book is that it's a very focused memoir on the place, time, and the nature of one's sexuality and love of the arts can all meet on a specific landscape. When he writes about the disco era it's fascinating, maybe because I just think of him as an art critic and not a guy who actually had a public life in such a wonderful environment. Or his interest in the Ballet, which is quite deep, and of course, like everything else in this book, deals with a relationship. A superb memoir that touches on a lot of issues. His love (I think) for Manhattan and some other locations. The Fire Island part of the book was equally fascinating to me. Essential gay culture literature, and of course, a very insider's view of the arts during the 1970s through the 1980s. Wonderful.

February 10, 2017 (Tosh's Diary)

February 10, 2017

For my long flight to Tokyo, I need to read a book that will make me forget my misery somewhere, flying over the Pacific Ocean.  Through my e-mail friend, yet a man who refuses to see me, Stephen Bannon, I plan to read Julius Evola.  Bannon has often given praise to Evola, for his views on society and its culture.  His masterpiece is reported to be "Revolt Against the Modern World."  Born in 1898, and died in 1974, this Italian painter and philosopher is known as a Radical Traditionalist.  A major occultist/esotericist of his time, he was a man who embraced the avant-garde arts, such as Futurism and Dadaism as well as a lifetime love for Fascism.   Although he was once close to Mussolini, he was more in line with the Nazis in Germany.  Of course, a man of high intellect becomes a suspicious character in the eyes of SS's Heinrich Himmler, who didn't trust him.    Evola felt Mussolini was too soft of a figure and intellect, and he felt the same way regarding Marinetti and the Futurists.  He preferred the spiritual leanings of the ancient Roman Paganism than to say something like Christianity. 

Bannon and I share an interest in digging deep into the cultural world to discover the foundation of our political beliefs.   Bannon is more attracted to the possibility of seeing Evola's political views becoming a reality in the 21st century.   The intellectual racist is the new man in Washington DC.   Not the President mind you, but it's best when the intellectual whispers secrets to the King.  As for myself, I'm more interested in Evola's theories on tantra sex.  Deep down I could care less about society in general.   I just want to get 'off' in an unusual fashion. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 9, 2017 (Tosh's Diary)

February 9, 2017

I can't deal with it.  I'm leaving the United States for Japan.  I need a country that represents order and is sane.  The situation is, do I focus on life as a Zen Monk, or go into Japanese pop music (J-pop) life?   Or can I do both?   

The foundation thing is not happening.  Both my mom and wife quit the Foundation's board of directors.  Which just leaves me as the head of the board.   We or I should say "I" had a board meeting, where I sat around a white table and read a tourist guide to Tokyo.   It was by far, the most constructive thing I did that day.  My tickets are purchased, and I'm very much looking forward to spending time in my old haunts in little Tokyo town.  There is a bar in Shinjuku that is calling out my name.  If you be quiet for a second or so, you can hear it.  "Tosh-chan, come here."  

I'm looking forward to getting back to the old Shibuya sound.  I have a faint idea of getting a band of girl dancers behind me as the singer.  I can dance OK, but I think the spectacle of it all will be a huge success. If nothing else, it will be useful for my ongoing memoir. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"Novi Sad" by Jeff Jackson (Kiddiepunk) Kiddiepunk
I read "Novi Sad" on the bus where my destination was at the barber for my haircut, and I didn't want to go home till I finished the book - so I ended up in a local bar to read the entire novella. It's a very moving book regarding the subject matter of imminent death, the loss of an important person in one's community, and the presence of the world that is not going to get better. A gang of young people, who are barely existing, are located in an abandoned hotel waiting for their 'leader' of sorts. They go through an abandoned and destroyed city to find the lost one. Not to give away the details of the plot, but it is very much a haunted work I think dealing with sadness and the acknowledgment of one who has passed on to the other side.

One of the characters in this short narrative is named "Blue," and the pages in this book are on light blue paper. I was reading it in a dark bar, and the blue is a nice bath for the eyes, but also in tuned with the character "Blue," as well as the story being sort of a version of the blues. It's a beautifully designed artbook by Michael Salerno and published with great love by Kiddiepunk, who works by the way, with Dennis Cooper. The images or artwork fits in greatly with the narrative. A really nice package. A great read. Now, it must be yours.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Theodor Adorno - "Minima Moralia: Reflections From Damaged Life" (Verso)

ISBN: 978-1-84467-051-2 Verso Books

"Minima Moralia" is my first introduction to the writing and brain of Theodor Adorno. I, of course, heard of the Frankfurt School, but never read works by its writers/thinkers - except for Walter Benjamin, who I adore. And technically he knew these guys, but wasn't a "member." This book is the ultimate bathtub book. It took me at least ten bath sessions, and a few long bus rides till I finished this book.

153 segments stand alone as miniature essays on subject matters that deal with the political system, aesthetics, literature, music, and Hitler. Since he wrote this book during the war years and as an exile in California, one gets a very precise snapshot of what it's like for an intellectual to witness such a devasting loss. The end of civilization, or the entrance of hell. "Minima Moralia" would be a proper companion piece to Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle." Both writers are very different, but the format of the writing is similar. The prose is very dense, and often I had to re-read passages. There are countless cultural references in Adorno's text -from classical works to pop culture of Germany/U.S.A/Europe of the time he wrote this work. The book analyzes the system that made things go wrong but doesn't have an answer to the problem. What comes through is an intelligent writer who is bitter, angry and very critical of the world as it lays out in front of him.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

February 5, 2017 (Tosh's Diary)

February 5, 2017

I went for a walk in Downtown Los Angeles, mostly to clear my head.  In my depressive mode, I tend to walk in that neighborhood for the architecture, bars, and to look at the people.  I have to admit that I haven't been happy ever since the President got elected.   I thought I had it in with the Stephen Bannon connection, but like everything else in my life, I'm often invited to the table with the big guys, but of course, it's at the end of the table by the toilets or exit.  It's discouraging because I just want to support myself as a writer, and of course, as a community project, build a Trump statue.  The truth is I don't even like Trump.   I just wanted to do something to bring the country back together again.  For awhile, I was toying with an idea of having a statue made of Trump shaking hands with Hilary Clinton.  But again, I was discouraged by friends and foes who say that is a horrible idea.   I was even open-minded to make a statue of Trump and Putin shaking hands - and that too didn't go off well in my community or the board members (my wife and mom) of my foundation.  

I suspect everything is turning from bad to worse, which is causing me grave feelings of insecurity and depression.  The funny thing is when an election is over, and the guy or girl wins; everyone is Ok, maybe things will get better.  But for whatever reasons, everyone is stressed out or even suffering from anxiety of all sorts.   My soul purpose is to get rid of this sense of loss or feelings of apprehensiveness.  As I walk up Broadway without being conscious of where I am going, I came upon a group of really cute girls.   They were carrying signs.  "Water is Life."  "Pipelines are War Crimes."  I found myself in a March regarding the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and the plan to build the South Dakota Pipeline, on Native American land.  I didn't plan to be there, but here I was, walking among them.   

I realize it's fate that I'm here.  Perhaps the statue is not going to bring people together, but the process of going on marches is what is going to unite us.   As I walk with these people, which first, seemed to be a hundred or so, but more come, block-by-block, that hundred turns to a thousand.  Or perhaps more!  It's an incredible feeling to be with the masses, after spending so much time alone, just thinking about my stupid statue project and my useless writing.  I discover the two most important things in life is being with a vast population for one cause for all, and of course, on Facebook.  Is my happiness around the corner? 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017 (Tosh's Diary)

January 31, 2017 (Tosh's Diary)

This past week, I wrote several emails to Stephen Bannon, and not once, had he returned my correspondence to him.   I suspect he's a rude man.  Since I got back from Washington DC, I have been sitting in the front of my blank laptop screen and listening to David Ezra Okonsar playing the piano works of Pierre Boulez and Xenakis.   Post-modern thought needs post-modern music.   

A lot of my friends are kind of mad at me because I attempted to organize a non-profit for both the Trump statue and my writing.  I need to study Hubbard's technique in starting an organization because I'm truly failing in that department.    In theory where there is a crisis taking place, and that is apparently happening, the writing should be coming through loud and clear.  I'm no Adorno, but I can have a good thought now and then.  

I do have two board members committed to my foundation.  I called a meeting with my mom and wife, and they are both free for the meeting.  My wife, who is a foreigner has a hard time reading my writings, due that it's not that interesting for her.   My mother is convinced that one only needs to read the first paragraph and the last to get the 'drift' of the piece.   Both are solid board members, but so far they haven't contributed to the yearly board fee.   I now wonder if I should have offered Stephen Bannon a discount?   I don't think it's a good idea because then I would have to give my mom and wife a discount as well.  

Also, I should mention that my idea to organize volunteers for the Trump wall between the United States of America and the country of Mexico is not going so hot either.  I went door-to-door in my neighborhood, and pretty much everyone was very hostile to that idea.  My one and only friend who is a Trump supporter, as well as giving me Bannon's personal e-mail address, showed some interest.  The thing is, his anger is really negative.   He spends his entire energy into the 'send Hillary to prison' movement.    He told me he's often totally wiped out by the early morning (he stays up late) due to tracking down information on Hillary's criminal record through various news websites. 
The news items that he sends me connects the Clinton Foundation to the assassination of John and Robert Kennedy.   Part of that Texas/Russia/Alabama connection that keeps coming up.   For some, the battle is never over.  Even when there is a prison, and they have a prisoner inside the prison cell - some people are never satisfied.  My friend is that way.   Meanwhile, I will try to stay focus on my end of the world.  Which at this time, is not much happening. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ludwig Wittgenstein "Lectures and Conversations" Edited by Cyril Barrett

ISBN: 0-520-01354-9 University of California Press
As someone who writes, in other words, tries to put the images that are in my mind as words on a page - I, of course, have a profound respect for the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Not the easiest philosopher to follow or understand, but personally speaking, he's the most rewarding with respect to my writing. The beauty of his thought is not the end of the process, but the journey itself. I often think that Wittgenstein is struggling to make himself understandable to his readers and students.

"Lectures & Conversations" is an absorbing book. It's ironic that it's a book about communicating what you think, but here, it is being filtered and written down as notes by his students in Cambridge in the 1930s. The primary focus of this small book is aesthetics. In how one sees something and how they describe that experience. In this part of the book alone, there are two students' notes of the lecture, which is interesting because you're getting the same information (we think), but the fact that it is two separate people, how they process that information. So overall the book is about what Wittgenstein is stating, bu then how that information or his thoughts are being dealt with in a lecture format.

The other subject matters in this book are psychology and religious belief. Wittgenstein reading Freud is a mind-bending experience. The landscape is so huge, and Wittgenstein I feel works best in a smaller context. For instance, what is on the table, and what does that mean to you? He didn't comment on that, but I'm just using that as an example, compared to the meaning of dreams.

Since I have been reading off and on, Wittgenstein, for the past five years or so, I can see his presence in my work. I don't fully grasp everything he writes or lectures about, but I get the 'drift.' In his nature, he writes like a poet, who thinks logically. I'm a fan of Wittgenstein.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017 (Tosh's Diary)

January 26, 2017 (Tosh's Diary)

Stephen Bannon.  The man who rejected me, but I didn't dear sir, rejected you.  My understanding is that he's very much the architect of Donald Trump's vision.  In a way, he's like Mick Ronson to David Bowie or Billy Strayhorn to Duke Ellington.  Without Bannon, Trump may not be able to do what he must do, whatever that is?

When the country is under stress, it's best to do things that will bring the country back together.  A sense of focus.  It's crucial for all of us to chose the path, and all must follow it to the conclusion.  Therefore I thought maybe I should forget about building a statue in honor of Trump, but instead, help him build the wall between Mexico and the United States.  Because without a doubt, this wall will very much be the lasting tribute to Trump.  I suspect that the wall itself, once built, will be called "Trump Wall."  Not very poetic, but easy to remember.

As I sat in my living room, with a glass of cold beer (been drinking early in the day), I have thought what I can do as a citizen.   Should I volunteer to help build the wall?  It's going to expensive.  Maybe organize a fund-raiser for the wall?   For sure, I don't think our taxes should pay it.  Citizens should be paying this wall by either donating their services, serving cold beer on the sidelines, or supplying the tools such as shovels, tractors, and so forth.  There is no reason why this can't be a positive thing, with all of us, working together.