Long-time readers know that I’m a book philistine. I refuse to use e-readers, I collect Modern First Editions and, for a brief time, was a bottom-rung rare book dealer. But my book bona fides were cemented when I partnered with Jim, one of my best buds and the proprietor of synesthesia press in Los Angeles, to publish a chapbook for Bruce Springsteen and Nick Hornby.
The Cliff’s Notes version is that Hornby gave us permission to reprint his essay on Thunder Road and Springsteen gave us permission to reprint the lyrics on a broadside. The stipulation was that the labor, materials and proceeds had to be donated to charity. We raised a little over $16,000 for Hornby’s cause in London. Here’s what happened in greater detail. It was an epic, eight-year struggle. A story of failure and second chances. Of lost friendship and redemption. It’s the best post I’ve ever written or ever will write.
Jim and I have come up with another chapbook. [Jim, mostly, if I’m being fair and honest.] This one is written by Tosh Berman, the son of Wallace Berman. Wallace Berman was an American artist who is considered the forefather of assemblage art and was an integral figure in the 1960’s California art scene.
Wallace is one of the faces in the crowd on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. He’s right next to Tony Curtis. Tosh was 12-years old at that time and this story is his remembrance of when Brian Epstein reached out to his father to secure permission to use his image.
“Around March of 1967, my father received a large envelope that was addressed from London.”
So begins Tosh’s short narrative, June 1, 2014. The hand-sewn chapbook is letterpress printed using both moveable type and photopolymer plates. There are three tipped-in color illustrations.
Four variant color covers were used; Steel Blue, Factory Green, Kraft Speckletone and Safety Orange. The print run is 300 copies.
Each copy is signed by Tosh.
You can order a copy of June 1, 2014 from the synesthesia press eBay store for $19.95 plus shipping. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, the book is available at Alias Books East. There’s more stuff to come off the press so keep your eye out. Here’s part of Jim’s mission statement:
“As a bookseller, I generally specialize in good used books of a subversive nature. In other words, anything by or about Beatniks, Commies, Pinkos and Reds. Most artists are subversive by nature and love all things smutty, so I like art books and Artists’ Books, outlaw poetry and prose or anything you’d be embarrassed to show your mom.”
You won’t read that in the Houghton Mifflin annual report.
Berman’s hand-assembled magazine, Semina, was published from 1955 to 1964 and ran nine issues. None were for sale. Copies were given away free to his friends. Currently, there’s a complete set available on the collectible market for $6,750. And that’s for a letterpressed Facsimile Edition printed in 1992. Original copes of the fragile publication are exceedingly scarce.
As a child, Wallace told his mother he would die on his 50th birthday. That premonition came to pass when, on February 18, 1976, his 50th birthday, he died in a car accident that was caused by a drunk driver.