It’s just over twenty years since Charles Bukowski died, on March 9th, 1994. I was in Paris when I heard the news, drinking beer and whisky chasers at a zinc bar, on rue de Lappe, the street where Edith Piaf once sang. It somehow seemed apt. No, I might not have been able to physically attend a candlelight vigil in downtown Los Angeles for the great man, but at least I was drinking.
I always picture Charles Bukowski at night, in bars, or passing through the neon-lit 7/11 with a six-pack of beers and a carton of cigarettes, back to his house to write endless pages of poetry or prose. I never think of him as out in the sun, tanned under blue LA sky and working for a living. But he did. He had to. He had a variety of jobs and held down twelve years at the Terminal Annex Post Office, 900 N. Almeda St. At nights, held court at 5124 De Longpre Ave.
It’s the association of Bukowski and parties and drinking and fighting and falling-in-and-out of love with women,and getting fired from jobs and waking-up hung-over to start a day drinking all over again. He lived it, but he also worked hard at being a writer. No one could write the quality or amount of poetry and prose if all they did was sit around in bars, fall down drunk and puke their guts out for days. There’s a difference between the telling of a lifestyle, and the living of a life.
This is a beautifully made wee film by multi-media producer Aric Allen that tours what’s left of Charles Bukowski’s LA. From his boyhood home, at 2122 Longwood Ave, to his refuge at the Central Library, to the Grand Central Market where he ate most days, to Musso and Franks on Hollywood Blvd, then on to 1148 W. Santa Cruz St., San Pedro, CA 90731.