Monday, December 5, 2016

"Notes on Glaze: 18 Photographic Investigations" by Wayne Koestenbaum

ISBN: 978-1-932698-58-9 Cabinet Books

"Notes on Glaze: 18 Photographic Investigations" by Wayne Koestenbaum

I'm a fan of Wayne Kostenbaum's writing - especially when it is something like "Notes on Glaze."  The very interesting journal and publisher, Cabinet Books, had Koestenbaum do a regular column where they send him anonymous photographs and in turn, he would comment on them, or more in detail, he uses the series of images as a foundation to reflect ideas, culture, and a bit of memoir writing as well.   Not knowing their source or who took these photos, gives Koestenbaum the license to write short essays/commentaries on each image, and in a fashion, the photographs serve as an entrance way into the author's mind. 

While reading this book, I felt compelled to do my own version of "Notes on Glaze," using the same images.  Mine would be totally different from Koestenbaum, which strikes me as something profound.  What we are getting is not information about these 'abandoned' photos, but the process and results of Koestenbaum's thinking pattern and he develops these ideas to make commentary or narratives out of them.   So in a way, "Notes on Glaze" is a writer's notebook.   I think anyone who writes, would benefit from this book.  Not genius like, for instance Joe Barnaird's "I Remember," but still an important process and tool.  So along the lines of Brainard and Raymond Queneau's "Exercise in Style", this is very much a remarkable book. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

"Almost Nothing With Luc Ferrari by Jacqueline Caux & Luc Ferrari (Errant Bodies Press)

ISBN: 978-0-9827439-1-1 Errant Bodies Press

"Almost Nothing with Luc Ferrari: Interviews" by Jacqueline Caux, with Texts and Imaginary Autobiographies by Luc Ferrari (Errant Bodies Press)

For the past 12 or so months, I have been obsessing over Musique Concrete, which is basically music made out of everyday but processed electronically or through tape manipulations. For reasons that are not totally clear to me, France seems to ground zero for these composers who work in that medium. One of the greats is Luc Ferrari. He's not the first, but I think, with respect to what I have heard so far, Ferrari's work is pretty great.



Errant Bodies Press, which is a publishing house that focuses on experimental composers as well as the issues of sound/art published a magnificent book on Ferrari and his theories/thoughts on composing and the world of the avant-garde music making. Basically the book is a series of Q&A interviews with Ferrari, as well as his weird and great autobiographies segments as well as detailed descriptions of some of his compositions. It's a beautifully designed hardcover book, and anyone who has just even the slightest interest in the world of composing, surely needs to read this book.





Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Delian Mode - Delia Derbyshire documentary



A very interesting documentary by Kara Blake, on Delia Derbyshire, a pioneer electronic British composer/musician who made music/sounds from tape manipulation.

Monday, November 28, 2016

"Source: Music of the Avant-Garde, 1966 - 1973" Edited by Larry Austin and Douglas Kahn (University of California Press)


In this very rotten year of 2016, I found a gem of a book, called "Source: Music of the Avant Garde, 1966-1973."   'Source' was a journal that was written and edited by avant-garde composers, for other avant-garde composers, and for those who are/were interested in type of music.  My guess is that the readership was small, but probably more like it - all geniuses.   Larry Austin and Douglas Kahn (composer themselves) made the perfect publication.   "Source" debated about the music of its time, as well as published visual and musical scores - as well as interview the main figures of that musical movement.



What we have here is John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Morton Feldman, Robert Ashley, the recently late and great Pauline Olivers, Christian Wolff, Dick Higgins, Steve Reich and so forth.   The talent doesn't stop!  Each issue had a focus on one or two composers and a specific work by them, as well as dialogue / interviews with specific composers.  Also manifestos of all sorts, and even a dip into politics.  My understanding is that finding a copy of "Source" is nearly impossible, and I can see why. Why would anyone want to give up their copy?



This book is an important and incredible source for music that was produced in the years from 1966 thru 1973.  A casual reader would for sure want to check out a composer's work, just by reading what that work is/was.  Also a lot of the new music at that time was very theatrical and performance friendly.  Towards the end of the book one gets a great sample of works by the Fluxus artists/performers.  Highly entertaining, this book is essential for either those who study the arts that were produced during that time period, but also the importance and greatness of new music of that time.




Thursday, November 24, 2016

"Man Ray: Writings on Art" edited by Jennifer Mundy

ISBN: 978-1-60606-458-0 Getty Publications



As a kid, I loved Man Ray.  Almost the same way I loved Dali.  But, I outgrew them both.   Not like Marcel Duchamp who has consistently been an art-god to me.   What I do admire Man Ray is his brilliant photographs - especially his portraits of well-known artists and writers - as well as his more 'artful' images he took.  He was also a superb filmmaker.  The paintings, are at times great, but I feel his work was never consistent.  His sculptures I consider to be much better than his paintings as well.  Which comes to this book "Man Ray: Writings on Art," a collection of his texts that were both published and unpublished, that mostly focused on the nature of art-making, or more likely with him, his regret that he wasn't more excepted in the world of the fine arts.



Man Ray was born in Brooklyn, but moved to Paris, where he found his calling and talent at the most beautiful time in the 20th century arts.  DADA and Surrealism were right outside his door, and he participated in both groups with great intensity - yet, due to the War, he had to move back to the U.S., specifically Los Angeles - which was a mixed blessing for him.   Being an international artist in Los Angeles at that time, was sort of like being abandoned in the desert.  There was great company of European artists at the time, but he felt a great distance from Paris - and as he had mentioned in his writings and in conversation - New York is behind Paris, and Los Angeles is behind New York.   Still, he worked on Vine Street and produced a great deal of art as well as photos. Which ironically, he never cared for photography as an occupation.  And seemed to have a chip-on-his-shoulder regarding Photograph as an art or not.  Painting it seems was the ideal art form - but, he never was fully accepted as a painter - in the critical manner.



This book, is beautifully edited and designed.  The magazine or book lay-out's of his photos is superb as well. The editing of the text, and the commentary by Jennifer Mundy is very knowledgable as well as interesting.  The only weak link is Man Ray's actual writings.  His work overall in that field is not that interesting.   He's no Duchamp type of thinker, and mostly he is a little bit pissed off that he's not better known in America.  Still, the book has much worth as a study on 20th Art, as well as a study on DADA/Surrealist practices and aesthetics.   I remember reading Man Ray's memoir, which was very enjoyable (I read it years ago), but when he gets serious about 'art' he loses his sense of playfulness - which in actuality, is the big part of the Man Ray aesthetic.  So, do get the book (it's a beauty) and use it as a reference, but with no fault of his own, Man Ray is not that great of a commentator on the arts.  Still, there are wonderful moments in the book.  Mostly in the end of this volume, when he wrote a diary of thoughts, that is charming.   As well as one-sentence commentary on his famous sitters for their photo portraits.   So, yeah, a real mixed bag here.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

"Lost Profiles: Memoirs of Cubism, DADA, and Surrealism" by Philippe Soupault, Translated by Alan Bernheimer (City Lights Books)

ISBN: 978-0-87286-727-7 City Lights Books

"Lost Profiles: Memoirs of Cubism, DADA, & Surrealism" by Philippe Soupault; translated by Alan Bernheimer

Philippe Soupault is one of my favorite writers. A member of the Surrealist world, with a touch of DADA, is a remarkable poet, as well as a prose artist. I also read his remarkable memoir of his years in the French Residence, called "Age of the Assassins" (which needs to be re-printed - NYRB please do so). "Lost Profiles" is a series of Soupault's remembrances of various friends, who happened to be iconic writers such as Apollinaire, René Crevel (underrated poet), Proust, Joyce, Georges Bernanos, Reverdy, Cendrars, and a critical essay on Baudelaire's poetry, plus an appreciation on the artist Henri Rousseau. A short and very sweet, but thoughtful book on the nature of these writers, and what makes them great. The fact that Soupault had a long life, and actually knew Apollinaire and Proust is mind boggling incredible. I'm almost star-struck just by reading this book. Beautifully translated by the poet Alan Bernheimer, with an introduction by Mark Polizzotti and an afterword by Ron Padgett, this is basically a must- read for those who have an interest in the European avant-garde of the early 20th century.

Philippe Soupault, photographed by Man Ray


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tosh Berman banned from Facebook (Again)



Once again, I have been temporary banned from Facebook for reasons that are beyond me.  For those who read my blog, knows this is totally laughable and false.  Yet, we will see what will happen.  To quote Facebook below:



"We restrict the display of nudity. Some descriptions of sexual acts may also be removed. These restrictions on the display of both nudity and sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless the content is posted for educational, humorous or satirical purposes.
We remove content that threatens or promotes sexual violence or exploitation. This includes solicitation of sexual material, any sexual content involving minors, threats to share intimate images and offers of sexual services. Where appropriate, we refer this content to law enforcement.
To learn more about the kinds of messages and posts that are allowed on Facebook, please review the Facebook Community Standards.

You’re Temporarily Blocked From Posting
This temporary block will last 3 days, and you won’t be able to post on Facebook until it’s finished.

Please keep in mind that people who repeatedly post things that aren’t allowed on Facebook may have their accounts permanently disabled.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"The Thief of Talent by Pierre Reverdy & Translated by Ian Seed (Wakefield Press)


"The Thief of Talent" by Pierre Reverdy & Translated by Ian Seed (Wakefield Press) 978-1-939663-19-1

When I first heard about this book "The Thief of Talent" by Pierre Reverdy, I was expecting an experimental novel.   It's not.  It's a book length prose poem that is incredibly moving and beautiful.   The book came out in France in 1917, and was pretty much ignored till at least 1967.  In 2016, Wakefield Press has done the first english translation by Ian Seed.  It's a remarkable book about an artist/poet leaving their scene.  A long goodbye note of sorts, but also a very poetic look of a world that passes him by - which happens to be Paris, 1917.  



Reverdy, is without a doubt, one of the great poetic voices of the 20th century.  This early work by him, exposes a certain amount of doubt in working in a world that is often hostile, or at the very least, suspicious of such activity.   The great fellow poet/art critic Max Jacob encouraged Reverdy to write this book, but at the same time, one gather by this text that their relationship had sharp turns to the left and right, when it wanted to go straight ahead.  According to Seed's introduction, the big turning point for Reverdy in writing this book was when Jacob hid his writings from Reverdy by closing a chest door in front of him.  This very act, caused a certain amount of stress for Reverdy, even though it was common practice for artists and writers of that time, to hide their work from fellow artists, due to the fear of being plagiarized. 



Maybe because it is due that Dylan just won the Nobel Prize for literature, but I couldn't help thinking about his work, while reading this book.  Dylan is known for 'borrowing' text for his songs/writings, and one wonder if he knew Reverdy's work. I suspect he does.   This, almost reads like a Dylan book written in the future.   Like Dylan, Reverdy is very cinematic with his writing.  One gets clear visuals while reading the text.  He knows how to paint a picture in one's head.  For me, I can't think of a 'new' book that is so important.  The loss of identity or to question such a thing, is very much part of 20th century literature.  And I have to admit it is very much part of my work as well.  "The Thief of Talent" is for all those who create something, and the need to say au revoir.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Dance Hall Racket (1954, Lenny Bruce, Timothy Farrell, D - Phil Tucker)





An odd piece of cinematic history.  Lenny Bruce wrote and stars in this b-film.  Ed Wood related as well.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

"THE EYE OF THE SIXTIES: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art" by Judith E. Stein

978-0-374-15132-4

"Eye of the Sixties: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art" by Judith E. Stein (FSG)

Superb biography on a New York City art dealer and visionary Richard Bellamy. There are people I should know about, and for some odd reason, and compared to the other huge dealers at the time, I never heard of Bellamy. Which is to be frank, quite idiotic of me. He brought the world, or to be more specific Manhattan, the world of Claes Oldenburg, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, James Rosenquist and many others. The beauty of Bellamy is that he was mostly fascinated with art and the artists - and could care less about the financial aspect of that world, or what it could bring to someone's pocket or piggy bank. His devotion (as a dealer) and friendship with Mark di Suvreo as well as Alfred Leslie is a classic relationship between dealer and artist. It seems he had an eye on the bigger picture, and author Judith E. Stein captures that essence of Bellamy. Throughout the narrative we get Warhol, Yoko Ono, Yayoi Kusama, Jasper Johns, and others. If Bellamy didn't take on these artists for his "Green" gallery, he worked hard on their behalf to find them representation.


And of course, the other reason why I like this book is the character of Bellamy. Usually drunk, often depressed, hysterical, insane dresser, and quite eccentric behavior. His relationship with Robert (and kind of Ethel) Scull, the major collectors of art in Manhattan, is equally fascinating. Robert was the secret backer to Bellamy's Green gallery, and it's interesting in the up's and down's of that gallery and Bellamy's mental state - they remained friends. It seems Bellamy didn't base his personal relationships on money alone - and this is what gives his character a great heart. Also, he was a very handsome man, who in photos reminds me of Jarvis Cocker a bit. Tall, nice hair, half-Chinese, and great taste in glass frames - he must have been a striking figure when he walked in a room. This was such an enjoyable read. It's nice to spend time with a fascinating character in a very active era of the visual arts in New York City.

Richard Bellamy & Robert Scull

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Karlheinz Stockhausen -- Mikrophonie I / Mikrophonie II





Lately, I  have been listening to a lot of classical/electronic/musique concrete music from the 1950s & 1960s.  It puts me in a good headspace, with respect how the world is behaving these days.  Stockhausen is a composer that I know very little of his music, but his name of course.  For the next year or so, I plan to go into the rabbit hole that is Stockhausen's world.

Friday, September 23, 2016

John Cage - Water Walk



John Cage​'s performance on "I've Got A Secret TV show in January 1960.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"The Witkiewicz Reader" by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Edited, Translated, and with an introduction by Daniel Gerould


"The Witkiewicz Reader" Edited by Daniel Gerould (Northwestern University Press)
There is the joy of going to a used bookstore, for instance, Alias East, on Glendale Blvd. and picking up a totally unknown author and his book. Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewiez, or better known in his home country of Poland, as Witkacy. "The Witkiewicz Reader" is an anthology of his various writings from 1914 to the date of his death (by suicide) in 1939. He lived through tough times in his country or part of that world, and his writings reflect, not realistically, but at least spiritually or aesthetically, the period that he lived in. Which, looking back, was not so good.


He was not only a writer, but also painter, commercial portrait painter, philosopher, playwright, photographer and a huge experimenter in narcotics. In that sense of structure he sort of resembles Artaud, but without the madness, but clearly with the emotional attachment to his life and the things that went wrong in that life as well. Personally I don't find his fiction that interesting, but on the other hand, his essay on drugs is very interesting, as well as his letters to a friend. He is probably one of the first 'aesthetic' writer to focus on the effects of peyote and cocaine. Almost scientifically minded, but.... well, he's an artist, so that aspect totally rears its head in. In that specific sense, he resembles William S. Burroughs - in fact, if he lived just a tad longer, I think he would be a Beat. 


Reading a best of, which is basically selections of that author's writings, one gets a pretty good snapshot of one's work. I'm curious to actually read an entire novel by him. If that's possible, and in English. Daniel Gerald, did a good job in choosing the material and he also places his life in chronicle time - so it's very much of a biography as well.





Friday, September 16, 2016

Eve Babitz



There’s Adam, and then, there is of course, Eve Babitz. There are those who call her a party girl, but in truth, she had documented her times and social world in Southern California, as if she was Charles Dickens. Or perhaps Marcel Proust. Her landscape is the Los Angeles art world of the 1960s and 1970s. I first met her when I was a child, and I think it may have been at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood. My father, the artist Wallace Berman, would go to Barney’s for a glass of beer or two, and so would the entire population of the L.A. artists of that time and period. Eve was attached to various artists, so therefore she was a regular as well. My initial reaction to her as a child was 'pretty lady. ' To the outside world, she was introduced as the naked girl who played chess with Marcel Duchamp, in the now a famous photograph by Julian Wasser. Babitz also did colleges, and she did the artwork cover for the second Buffalo Springfield album. She was famous for dating interesting men. But now, as people look back and noticing or reading the new reissues of her books (published by NYRB and Simon & Schuster) - Eve Babitz is a writer of great distinction and importance. 


One thing I have noticed, that people from my age and time, if they’re still alive, the younger generation is very much interested in those who lived the life during the 1960s. If for nothing else, just because one has had breathed with the greats, or acknowledge to share the same glow as those who are now deceased. The subject matter of culture in Los Angeles is very much a huge interest among those who study cultural history. It’s an area of the world where every great person of some note, has visited or lived under the sunny skies. Movies and music have been produced, written and made here, and so the same for its literature. A lot of Los Angeles fiction or literature comes from writers who came from somewhere else, and are trying to deal with the physical aspect of living someplace that they perceived as hostile to their physical and mental well being. Eve Babitz is not in that category at all, because she’s very much the daughter of Los Angeles, and was raised in a highly cultured household. Her mother was an artist, and dad a classical violinist, who worked for the 20th Century Fox studios. Her godfather is Igor Stravinsky. Eve’s life is a mixture of the high and low culture that was Hollywood from the 1940s to 1960s. The city is a magnet for the displaced, the adventuresome, and the romantic as they shadow-punch the shadows away from the direct sunlight. In such a fashion, Babitz is the skilled guide to the landscape and citizens of Southern California. She resembles both Marcel Proust and F.S. Fitzgerald, because she has a great eye for detail, and clearly has an understanding regarding the importance of the landscape within the characters’ make-up as well as their presence in that world. 


Also, she has the magnificent talent of being in the right place and time. The famous image taken by Julian Wasser of Eve, in the nude, playing chess with Marcel Duchamp was a matter of luck and by the hustle of the photographer, knowing to get a great shot. The background story was that Babitz was having an affair with Walter Hopps, the curator of the Duchamp exhibition - and at the time, there was some discomfort between the both of them. In a sense, it was Babitz’s revenge towards Walter for not allowing her to come to the Duchamp opening. Ironically enough, as it is a playful homage to Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” it is also a secretive (which Duchamp would approve of) commentary on Eve’s part as well. Although the whole image was dreamed up by Wasser, I suspect Babitz saw the many levels of such a setting. 


I just finished reading “Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L.A.” and it’s an incredible snapshot of not only Los Angeles proper, but also the getaway locations such as Palm Springs, Bakersfield, and various beach communities. I have also read “Eve’s Hollywood,” but I prefer “Slow Days” because i feel in this book Babitz really conveys her love for Los Angeles, not only for its obvious reasons of sun, beach and fun - but also for its darkness and great culture. Babitz is very opinionated and focused on the weaknesses of the various characters that run through her narratives. That is what gives her writing the noir quality. It’s not about crime and guns, but more regarding sexuality and how one looks at life. She is thought of as a party girl, yet she strikes me as a realist, and how everyone plays out their fate in the community. Also her commentary that she makes in the book regarding the nature of doing creative work in Los Angeles is 100% correct. To quote, regarding Stravinsky in L.A.: “I think that the truth was that Stravinsky lived in L.A. because when you’re in your studio, you don’t have to be a finished product all the time or make formal pronouncements. Work and love - the two best things - flourish in the studios. It’s when you have to go outside and define everything that they often disappear. “ In her eyes, New York and elsewhere is where the final product is defined and noted for its importance. Yet, doing art in Los Angeles is very much part of life, and it is not about defining who you are, but the enjoyment of being in a studio or being studio-minded and processing all of that in your artwork, music or film. An interesting and wise observation from Babitz. She's an excellent writer. 


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gruppo Nuova Consonanza Azioni Documentario




Mario Bertoncini, Walter Branchi, Franco Evangelisti, John Heineman, Roland Kayn, Ennio Morricone, Ivan Vandor e Frederic Rzewski.
1967-1969

The greatest Italian band ever! Maestro Ennio Morricone​ and his fellow band members playing live in this documentary.  Must watch!

Vince Taylor - Rock'n'Roll singer - 50s/60s





A superb mini-documentary on the great Vince Taylor.  I have been obsessed with Vince for some time now.  Without a doubt, he's rock.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Evening Series No. 4


The Evening Series Volume 4

Tonight, I feel like someone turned the oxygen off.  Stuffiness has its decaying scent. Not mildew exactly, but the scent of life not happening.  Which pretty much describes my life.  The job I have already, pretty much pays the bills, but nothing left over for fun and relaxation.  So in place of relaxation and fun, I began to work on a journal.   At first, I decided to get a blank notebook - but one with attractive grade of paper, but also much needed lines.  My handwriting is kind of bad, so I need something to keep my lettering straight and to the point. And since I don’t have a lot of money, I purchased an expensive blank (but lined) journal.  In my mind, since I made a financial commitment on the tools of the trade (expensive pen as well) then that means I will produce great literature.  So far, the page has been blank. 




If time is money, I’ll be super broke by now.  I have noticed that I look at the clock on the wall, more than the empty blank page in front of me.  At times, I feel like a narration that is just waiting to be cracked open.   Then again, I do look at that clock often.  The big hand moves faster than the little hand.  And my hand grasps the pen and it’s not moving at all.   I put on Michel Legrand’s “Ballade de Polly Maggoo” on the turntable, because it’s getting closer to midnight, and I haven’t the foggiest idea why I have the notebook opened in front of me.  It’s not drawing me closer to the pen or paper.   If I stare at the two items on my table, it looks like they are pulling away from me.  

My memory is very great, and part of the problem is I can’t feel or tell which memory is more important than the other.   I start thinking maybe I should write something about my life, but then again, don’t you need to have a life to write about it?   Clearly I did things, but living that life is one thing, and then writing it down is a totally different matter.   I’m pretty sure I was happy when I went through the motions of my life, but writing, I feel a sense of disappointment, that perhaps, I could have done more.  And we are taught early that more is the best. But looking back, it seems not that much has happened.


The notebook’s blankness is now taunting me.  I used to own a series of leather bound miniature notebooks to take with me so I can jot down an idea or image if I’m out of the house.  But, not surprisingly, the blank notebook pretty much stayed in my back pocket of my jeans, and often while walking in Echo Park Lake, I would pretend to write something down on the blank page, because I would see people all around me, writing with great intensity.  The only thought in my head at that moment, is that I wish that I had some sort of passion - something to burn me up.  Depression, pure joy, even a boredom with many textures and levels - but all I felt was nothing.  So pretending just made me feel ‘OK’ at that moment, and occasionally I would stroke my chin, like I’m in deep thought.  But the truth is, I was totally acting.  I’m such a fake, and then I try to analyze that, so I can write on that subject - but all I come up with is a blank.  Void.  Empty.  Natta.  



It is at that moment, that I put the notebook aside, and open my laptop. I go on Facebook, to see what Kim is doing.  She writes on film, especially Noir, and is very much an expert on the cinematic arts.  She also can’t sleep at night, and tend to post on Facebook around 2 am, and since it is the twitching hour, I want to see what she’s up to.  Gene Wilder.  She’s posting images of Gene Wilder.  He died.  She likes Gene Wilder.  She likes him a lot.  I never seen a Gene Wilder film.  I have heard of him, and I saw images of him on the internet and in various coming attractions throughout my life, but I never actually seen a film by, or him in it.  The reason why I haven’t seen his films, is because I can’t stand comedies.  I can’t laugh at the movies.  Why?  I don’t know.  I went on a date once to see a Laurel and Hardy series of short films, and my date was laughing like an insane person, but I just kept quiet and ate our pop corn.  In fact, I pretty much ate the entire bag, because she was laughing, and I had nothing better to do then munch on the food, and I wasn’t even hungry. 



I actually wanted to go out to the movies with Kim, but I was afraid to ask her. Not in fear of not accepting my date, but her saying yes.  I feel it would have been my responsibility to actually select a film, that I think she may enjoy watching.   And since comedy is out of the question, what kind of film do you take a woman, or beyond that, a person to?   She has a quirky taste, so I imagine it could have been the recent “Batman VS. Superman” film, or even “Suicide Squad.” But is that really a good date movie, and especially with someone like her who has sophisticated taste in films?   I didn’t ask her.  Or ask her out.  Which solved that problem quickly.  



The page is still empty.  Yet, somehow I feel like I lived a life.  But not an actual life, but one that’s in my head. When people read my works in general, they notice that my writing is about nothing.  Yet in that void, one can taste the most devious fruits, that seem to be too good.   In reality, they have been rotting on my kitchen table. They are used more for visual appearance, than something tasty to eat.  So, in that sense, my writing will nourish your head, but leave your body nothing.  I throw the notebook aside, and I get off the chair.  I approach the window looking at the night.  It’s dark.  My eternal canvas.

- Tosh Berman

Friday, September 9, 2016

"Papa John" An Autobiography by John Phillips (Dolphin Books)


There is invariably a dark presence or cloud in one's area of interest. I love rock n' roll. In fact, I love music. And I love reading musician's memoirs. At the best, they are brilliant with strong characteristic qualities - Jah Wobble, Ray Davies, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Viv Albertine, Oscar Levant, and numerous jazz memoirs. The weak one's is usually written for money - well, more likely all for money, but still, the character comes through and makes it a fascinating read. Unfortunately, John Phillips of the Mamas and Papas has no strong character. Son of a failed military man, he is a figure who basically had one service - and was to service himself. There are charming characters - such as Errol Flynn and others of that particular character, that can only do bad, yet, somehow become charming even after their questionable deeds and actions. Phillips, on the other hand, lacks the charm And his memoir "Papa John" is the king of the charmless autobiographies. He had sex, he did drugs, he wrote happy/sad music, he had more sex, more drugs, hung out with famous (and more talented than him) people, did drugs with them, did drugs with his children, had sex with friends, other's wives, sex with wife, sex, and then more drugs. He became addicted. A little bit more sex, but mostly now drugs. By the time I finished this book, I loathe him. Still, at times, it was a hard book to put down. However, then again, I'm sort of the guy who can probably watch a slow-motion car accident - and then hating myself for doing so. I don't hate myself for reading this book, but as I read, I had one eye on the page of this book, and a wandering eye on the pile of books I want to be able to read. It kept my hope up.