Friday, December 21, 2012

those days*

i realise i dont have any pictures of bertolas, outside or inside. they must exist. somewhere! but where? i visited often in the 80s. by october 1990 it was gone. i hadnt gone the last month or 2. certainly it had changed. but in those glorious days of the early and mid 80s i was there often. i miss it to this day. not just the food and drink but the atmosphere. there was a sign out front that must have amused passerby:  'HOW CAN YOU LOSE' with the drink prices which were 50 cents for a single, 75 cents for a double and $1 for a triple!! as mentioned i usually went for a double gin/tonic. by the third one ron is pouring you a triple. this was cash on the bar, no credit card or bar code. this was the real thing. it could be tough to get a slot at the bar on a busy friday or saturday, and thus i would usually avoid those nites. black & white movie posters of bogart and others on the wall. a bar entrance and a family entrance. but on one of those glorious friday or saturday nites, 23 years ago this weekend, i went to bertolas for a few drinks, and then on to the OMNI club on shattuck, which was in the old ligurian club see jack bruce play, even ginger baker was with him on drums! the mad drummer himself....oakland was a lot of fun then. it probably is now, but it isnt what it used to be, not even my beloved temescal!


in november 1980 i moved back to north oakland after being away some 15 years. the apartment was #26 in the canadian arms, 439 49th st, 2 blocks east of telegraph. 49th street was to be home, off and on for the next 23 years. tho of course, it is still home. no one else called the building the canadian arms, but that was and is the name of the building. now i think it is even named on the directory. there was a great restaurant right down the street at 45th & telegraph called bertolas. it probably opened in the 1930s. ed jennings told me about it, tho i later found out some relatives used to eat there. but i had never been until i moved to 49th st. most people would call it an old fashioned italian restaurant: those red & white checked tablecloths, the movie posters, the bar in the middle, and the dim lights. i loved it. a typical meal would start with minestrone soup and then some salad. the salad was just iceberg lettuce with one (1) piece of salami. no tomato or onion. always a lot of bread.  then the spaghetti, which may have been served with the veal. i used to order the veal regularly. if one wanted more bread, they would bring it to you. there were always waitresses. no waiters. of course  there was also a gin & tonic at the beginning, and then cheap burgundy with the meal. later of course i used to frequent the bar, and ron would be pouring the perfect double gin/tonic when he would see me coming in. sometimes i would get a meal to go after the 2nd gin & tonic. if i got the to go meal it would be the soup and spaghetti, not the veal. bertolas may have been the only bar where i was practically a regular, tho i didnt talk to most of the other drinkers. i would eat or drink at bertolas as much alone as with friends.  and one could stumble back to the building in 5 minutes or less, always with a smile and some leftovers.....

Saturday, November 3, 2012

blink & its wednesday or the aftermath of sandy

31 october 2012.
for the san francisco giants, adele parker & aleister crowley
confounding all thought remotely revealing common sense or could we possibly be there yet? saturday samarai & sushi to go. hit the p.o. early, or could it have been one really knows...but returned to the citadel for an early lunch with the circus remnants too chicken shit to leave town & i dont recall just where the fuck they were going...moldova, hoboken or niagara falls...& still havent heard. by sunday obscure gypsies & thieves were circulating in the back streets near the citadel & we found ourselves sharpening the bamboo poles we'd kept around since irene's visit some 14 months prior. back street decadence doesnt arrive until dusk...the pills had worn off as the ice clinked for the dregs of gin or was it vodka with a splash? no one can recall. a damp monday overeasy: drizzle drizzle drizzle & the kitchen window is closed for the first time in months...the usual shenanigans suspended as the rain intensifies...howlin' wind, the blues & a strongly herbed chicken. why werent you here homeboy!?! warm enough tuesday for soul searching, portofino persuasion & a casual porch conversation w/ anyone brave enough for a verbal version of what you are reading now. blink & wednesday rolls in calmly, all in all obscurely, with no demands but to kick out the jams, declare who you are (if you dare) quickly, don your true will & the hat of your choice! may the anrchist gypsy be with you

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


i met gore vidal in june 2007. uh, let me rephrase. gore came to providence to receive an award of some kind from rhode island school of design (RISD). a talk of some kind was happening, tho i think it was someone asking gore questions. he had allergies, and complained there was 'spring' in providence, which didnt occur in los angeles. he was a bit hoarse. did we need tickets? i dont recall. if we did there was no charge. what did he talk about. probably the state of the world at that time, and the horror that is good old usa. eventually, the audience asked a few questions. and like that it was all over. i have met many writers whose works i have admired. but i was trembling to speak with gore ever so briefly. we talked about brion gysin, whom he had known.. i gave him a book i had published of brion's stories in 1984. with trembling hand himself he signed my copy of 'palimpsest'.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

more toast!

later, i went to live in london, april 1980 for several months. but the first trip was june of '77, a jubilee year. and today or was it yesterday, watching the boats on the thames and the queen and all made me think of that year. london was fun that year. i stayed in a small bed & breakfast out by kings cross station. 3 quid a nite. and dig this: as much toast and tea as one wanted with breakfast! the place was run by real english people. "more toast?" i loved it! and more tea! ha ha ha!! just to see all the streets that had been in stones songs. the brits were in a good mood that year, and the pound was weak against the dollar. the weather was good. the punk thing was happening but i didnt pay too much attention. "MORE TOAST?"

an odd cat: august 77

at the new york airport there was a booth where one could get help booking a hotel. the lady got on the phone. 'how much do you want to spend'. well...i dont think i said but she got me a room at the tudor hotel on east 42nd st for $20 per nite. i was pleased. i think the tudor has been remodeled now, but the rooms back then were very small. which was fine with me. new york still felt like the old days. breakfasts were 99 cents until 11 a m. eggs toast, juice etc. do these places still exist?? the 2nd nite i went to the yankees/white sox game. it was a see-saw affair. this may have been august 17th. i dont remember who won. back at the tudor the TV mentioned the news about presley. the next day i phoned a j weberman, the dylanologist. his name and phone number were at the back of the paperback edition of scaduto's dylan bio. he lived on bleecker st. near the bowery. 'i'm selling the masters' he said. it seems columbia was giving him some shit about selling copies of his unreleased dylan tapes. so i went over there. he was an odd cat. there was a big painting in his place of dylan shooting up. i think the lady who was there had made the painting. weberman seemed, uh.... well, he was nice enough but not particularly friendly. he sold me 50 reels of unreleased dylan for $100. thats right folks, $2 per tape. i must have dragged them back to the tudor. and they eventually flew back with me to california. they brought me much joy over the coming months. fortunately, several people i knew in the bay area made reel to reel copies of these tapes, which is fortunate, as my tape collection has gotten scattered over the years, as careful as i am with my archival materials. i called weberman 2 years later but he pretended he didnt remember me OR the tapes. an odd cat.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

after bathing at baxters

on this day in 1968 i saw jefferson airplane, live, in california. this was probably the first concert i saw, other than the symphony. there was a great light show. and while i dont recall the song listing there is no doubt it was a great show, being the airplane afterall. drag out that copy of baxters folks, still one of the greatest records ever, and what a cover!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

not so long ago

several months ago someone asked me to tell them about the time i went over to see a j weberman in new york city to purchase some dylan tapes, in fact in august of '77. i said ok, but before i go into that i should preface the story with how i came to be in new york in the first place. well...35 years ago next week i left for my first trip to europe. ostensibly to buy records, and to visit morocco. both of which happened. left out of new iceland to change planes...landed in luxembourg....spent the next 6 weeks or so in germany, france, england - - with a delightful trip down to cornwall - - amsterdam, et al. eventually i went down to the south of france to see where the stones recorded 'exile'. in the delightful village of villefrance sur mer. i also saw nice for the first time. then it was train travel down the coast of spain, with a nite in valencia near the bull ring, and a night in marbella. then the ferry from algeciras to tangier. i wanted to talk to paul bowles about moroccan music. and i did. every day for 3 weeks. came back with 6 or 7 hours of cassette tapes. well, i missed a day. 'where were you yesterday' he asked. i dont remember! then, it was back to france for the flight to new york city for 5 days or so before returning to california...

ege bamyasi

its not that i havent wanted to speak with you, but there obviously have to have been some distractions these past few months. / not that i can mention them coherently right now, so you're going to have to trust me. but these past few weeks have been rather rainy, after a somewhat dry spring. we were gifted a dragon, so we should be able to put forth some transcriptions of what we affectionately refer to as kitchen table ramblings, maybe even prior to the solstice. finishing up 'always in trouble: the oral history of ESP Disk', a book recommended to all. the latest bernie krause title is also over here on the table. am also trying to make some sense of a manuscript i've been working on for years, ostensibly a memoir entitled 'tropical delusion'. most of it is written, we just have to shuffle some paragraphs around. wear white if you're on your bike, and do check back soon now, eh?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

saffron gone astray

next day was a saturday and i was supposed to attend a zinfandel wine show in frisco sometime after lunch. this didnt happen however, for various reasons. the day began innocently enough with nathan and myself hitting the shoppes for both breakfast and lunch foodstuffs, which would be prepared & served at the unmarked west oakland warehouse. no doubt we acquired some jug wine, probably carlo rossi. the sun was out. there may have been a hike in the hills or was that the day before. i was due in the hills near redwood city for dinner, preferably well in advance for the wine and appetizers. much to my surprise, nathan agreed to wisk me over in his own motor car, with oliver the dog. no problem!! (i have never cared much for the transportation system in the 'bay area' that tries to pass itself off as a subway). we arrived emerald hills sometime before 5, and it was a very warm day. we were lucky to get out of oakland however, as the occupiers were somehow engaged in some more foolishness and the roads were temporarily backed up. and arrival at the home of longtime friend and comrad riley the irishman, and his longtime paramour kathleen. hot damn. the wine begins to flow. we get a tour of the grounds. oliver the dog is free to roam and run!! some stellar dead on the box (kings beach feb 1968). a neighbour, s the anarchist, was also invited. a moroccan chicken was being prepared. but there was a small problem: the hippies at the market neglected to put the saffron into the bag!! holy shit!! how can there be a moroccan chicken without the saffron!?! well....the meal presented us some hours later was impeccable. 'no saffron required'. more wine. side dishes?? cous cous? vegetables? odd, but i dont really recall. we were all having a good time. a tour of the grounds next door. nathan saw a boat he wanted. (and may still want). the warm afternoon was evening & then nite. but the madness would continue tomorrow...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

signspotting out west

the arrangements had been made some weeks previously but i was definitely not in the mood to travel when jan 24 came around. balmy providence had not yet allowed winter thru the gates (in fact it really hasnt arrived). but there were several appointments (& meals) i just didnt want to miss, and off i went. i knew pirate could take care of 'all & everything' here at the citadel while i was away (& she did). i didnt see much of oakland, but my mainman there drove me hither and yon to mendocino and marin, & on evening 3 or was it 4 my attorney got loud and said how bout dinner at his place, in north berkeley (he's a damn good cook folks!). naturally we began with some red wine around 2, toured the garden, listened to some fabulous music (usually vinyl), most of which i cant remember cause i'd never heard of some of the bands. maybe when he reads this he can gently remind me! were there appetizers? had to have been. no doubt some superb cheeses from the board etc. the main course was to be guineau hen, which i had never had. another bottle of red. my oakland road manager was due back for dinner at 6 and he may have been in touch via mobile. eventually my attorney's wife arrives, but on finding out dinner was still some time away, she split quick for the safety of an upstairs sleeping room. ho ho....(she missed a damn good dinner folks!!) N finally arrived and the three of us ate.....some sizzling grateful dead on the box.....the au jus and cabbage with the hen out of this world! more red!! ho ho....but this was just the start of this little west coast venture, ostensibly to remind folks of all i do and continue to do......(stay tuned!)

Monday, January 23, 2012

those london chimes from yesteryear

it was probably in january, 1965 that the rolling stones became important to me. certainly i had heard of them in 1964, and maybe even seen them on tv. but they hadnt sunk in. fortunately, there was good radio where i was living then, a 9 year old out on the delta. and the station dug the stones. maybe 'the rolling stones now' had just been released. i knew this was my music and i hadnt even seen a picture of the boys yet. and because all things british were big that year we even got the news from london. this may have been my first time hearing about winston churchill. cause he checked out on 24 jan '65 at the age of 90! and after the news, the station had a show known as the 'gear hour' and it was all things british and my boys, the stones, were often featured. there was even a full hour of the stones one saturday nite!! transistor radio under the pillow! tho as a rule, i dont really like janurary tho it is the month of my birth. (i later found out the stone themselves were down under that month, stopping off in L.A. to record 'the last time' after the aussie tour.
might still be their best single! (b/w 'play with fire').

Monday, January 16, 2012

between the buttons

it was a festive wknd for reasons aplenty (& some of you may even know why) but it may have begun thursday with the rain and a viewing of tinker tailor soldier spy, which, while not as good as the alec guiness 4 hour interpretation was still enjoyable and gary oldman was indeed superb as smiley/ alas, the rain split quick and the cold arrived (rain due back tonite folks). and those le carre books usually put me in the mood for pink floyd's meddle which will spin some nite soon/ saturday was another excursion, this one to 'loie fuller' restaurant on the west side (one of our favourite providence eateries). sunday and we never left the citadel but for an electric evening at the big house : potato raclette and chili with a superb california cabernet/ everyone in good form/lazy monday with simon wells' book on the '67 redlands bust as the clouds are welcomed back! the circus will resume soon, do be patient...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

anonymous proposition

we musta hit 62 or so on the porch today, windows open...finally a tequila sunrise, like those oakland daze of yesteryear...tho the burgundy was flowin also....and now its halftime : saints & lions...just a quick word...we can often be outta here by now...this january the exception and the weather godz in our huddle for the moment...gotta get back to the inks and pastels...still some typing to do on the word collage...another lazy saturday....

Thursday, January 5, 2012

hwy to another song

was out in oakland last february and nathan made a superb coq au vin, a version which i made tonite (w/ bacon) and it turned out pretty damn good. but that isnt why i am here today. the following was first composed in 1988 and has been modified to fit your screen and your mood.
i see you/timeless injectory. desert sky & pink wolves.
SHE SINGS. integrity of a madman. isolation/solitude. orkus orchids & a pinochle deck to go.
foliginally/juxtaposition notwithstanding.
a jig-saw of nerveless fever. piece it together as the:
soup of your vein
soup of your mind
soup and you're MINE
ode to a transparent misunderstanding or didnt our times mesh...

along for the ride. your nerve cut, raw-edged existence has eaten away at my
& my kaleidoscopic determination to make you something other than you are:
to make you see me thru a 3 dimensional warped obsession.
But: it IS you. this i can not deny. the ballgame is yours, cant you see?
keep your dreary cesspool, i dont want it!
stay off my fucking com lines you suffocate me.
glassy eyes/bitter connexion. glass bootheel. far west
i decided it might be a good time to change my phone number. not that i dont want to hear from you its just that i cant contemplate the chamber within your sawed off misanthropy. but: do knock cautiously & we may be able to connect for a bent snowball. your presence is in my fedora & i sing for you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

fragmented ink

there have been many periods of writing, scribbling...and of course drawing & painting and both continue to this day. yet there were no diary entries until 1982. and since then they have been more or less constant, without revealing much. in 1980 i arrived in london for a lengthy stay and over a month or so of that time composed 'fragmented ink', my first published piece. it amuses me now in retrospect, as i informed people i had a book coming out. the book was fotocopied sheets in a smartly designed 'folder'. no 2 were alike. it still reads well. and there are still out-takes as it were. but the most joy of the scribbles was 'piano key transparency', begun in 1975, and finally published in 1982, the 2nd inkblot publication. recently released on compact disc. the new year may finally see the release of 'tropical delusion', my long threatened fractured memoir. hold your breath...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

days have gone by

while it isnt exactly tropical these past few days, its been just warm enough to remind me of oakland daze of yesteryear and we got into fahey 'your past comes back to haunt you' these past few mornings/ & its highly recommended. tropical fahey/ & while we long for rain the overpowering lack of completely fucked up east coast winter weather is predominant. know what i mean??

Monday, January 2, 2012

new year tango

the fondue turned out particularly good & was intentioned in the classic raclette tradition of burgundy/ it turned into a LOT of cheese at the wknd, which began fri evening when m & h arrived from brooklyn with a large tray of lasagne, tho we already had a pizza waiting. (thus, we held onto the lasagne until yesterday, and there is still some left) . to take our minds off of the cheese, we hit abyssinia on saturday for lunch, tho it wasnt up to scratch. fortunately, some lentils & rice were also left here sat evening at some point. not forgetting the roast pork from 7 or 9 daze ago right here near the citadel. i havent made a beef stew yet this winter (its been warm here in the northeast folks) but feel a meat crave entering me blood.