A short tour of Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles
03.28.2014
08:28 am

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Literature

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Charles Bukowski

kub12owla.jpg
 
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.
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Bukowski’s poetry used to sell Scotch
09.24.2013
06:27 am

Topics:
Advertising
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski
Scotch

Bukowski
 
A new ad for Dewar’s Scotch whiskey uses Charles Bukowski’s famous poem, “So You Want to Be a Writer,” to hawk their booze. The reading is quite beautiful, the kind of pathos-rendering performance one wishes they had first heard outside of an advertisement. Now, I’m way past caring about hearing my favorite song in a commercial. First of all, no one is dumb enough to think the artist or band is actually endorsing a project. Secondly, making money off of music is really difficult, so I’m pretty sympathetic to whatever artists or their surviving family have to do to make ends meet. This Dewar’s ad however, rubs me the wrong way, and I can’t quite figure out why it’s so different.

Maybe it’s because music is capable of being such a passive experience, while this kind of poetry requires a more focused engagement. Yes, we’ve all gotten wasted, put on the headphones, and listened to ABBA with a fevered intensity (or maybe that’s just me?), but most of the time, we have music playing while we commute, clean the house, type away at work, take care of the kids, or do whatever mundane task the day requires of us. Most music is art that we can fit into the nooks and crannies of our lives—a soundtrack—but this kind of poetry requires a bit of space, and a bit of time.

Or maybe It’s because this poem has always rubbed me the wrong way, as an anthem of creative onus. I’ve always felt it odd that someone would list off the many “wrong” ways to make art, as if it’s some sort of orthodox religion. And the idea that art should only be produced in a flash of inspiration or passion has been argued against by so many artists. Sometimes things take time, first drafts, second drafts, 134th drafts. Sometimes the failures and near-misses of creation are what’s necessary to really transform a project into something great. Sometimes creation is a schlep. Sometimes ideas and work needs to age (like a good whiskey!).

Or maybe I just don’t like the ad because I think Dewar’s is terrible Scotch?
 

 
Via Open Culture

Written by Amber Frost | Discussion
Charles Bukowski’s F.B.I. file
09.03.2013
09:40 am

Topics:
Books
Heroes
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski
F.B.I.

wokubsetondlonam 
 
In 1968, Charles Bukowski became a person of interest to the F.B.I. because of his writing for an underground newspaper.

Bukowski wrote a scurrilous and highly entertaining column, “notes of a dirty old man” for Open City. This column caused enough offense to the Postal Services and the F.B.I. that there was an investigation into the life and morals of the literary mailman.

What emerges from the 113-page file is a portrait of a man who was regularly absent from work, who enjoyed a drink, was considered a “draft-dodger”, and was once married to “Jane S. Cooney”—the “Jane” of many of his most heartfelt poems. Nothing new there. Though the finks at the F.B.I. did add their own literary pique by describing Bukowski’s work as “highly romanticized.”

Read the whole document here.
 
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Via bukowski.net, h/t Open Culture
 
More pages from Buk’s FBI File, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Bukowski reading ‘Something for the Touts, The Nuns, The Grocery Clerks And You’


 
Happy birthday Bukowski. You are seriously missed.

“Something for The Touts, The Nuns, The Grocery Clerks And You” is Charles Bukowski at his absolute best—angry, bitter, sad, beautiful and funny. From the 1974 collection Burning In Water, Drowning In Flame.

The video is composed of found footage and excerpts from the works of Arthur Lipsett and Gregory Markopoulos.

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Charles Bukowski on censorship
05.20.2013
10:28 am

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Books
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski


 
A letter from Charles Bukowski to journalist Hans van den Broek in response to Bukowski’s book Tales of Ordinary Madness being removed from the Public Library in Nijmegen in 1985.

Tales of Ordinary Madness was described by the library as “very sadistic, occasionally fascist and discriminatory against certain groups (including homosexuals).”

7-22-85

Dear Hans van den Broek:

Thank you for your letter telling me of the removal of one of my books from the Nijmegen library. And that it is accused of discrimination against black people, homosexuals and women. And that it is sadism because of the sadism.

The thing that I fear discriminating against is humor and truth.

If I write badly about blacks, homosexuals and women it is because of these who I met were that. There are many “bads”—bad dogs, bad censorship; there are even “bad” white males. Only when you write about “bad” white males they don’t complain about it. And need I say that there are “good” blacks, “good” homosexuals and “good” women?

In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see. If I write of “sadism” it is because it exists, I didn’t invent it, and if some terrible act occurs in my work it is because such things happen in our lives. I am not on the side of evil, if such a thing as evil abounds. In my writing I do not always agree with what occurs, nor do I linger in the mud for the sheer sake of it. Also, it is curious that the people who rail against my work seem to overlook the sections of it which entail joy and love and hope, and there are such sections. My days, my years, my life has seen up and downs, lights and darknesses. If I wrote only and continually of the “light” and never mentioned the other, then as an artist I would be a liar.

Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere, in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist.

I am not dismayed that one of my books has been hunted down and dislodged from the shelves of a local library. In a sense, I am honored that I have written something that has awakened these from their non-ponderous depths. But I am hurt, yes, when somebody else’s book is censored, for that book, usually is a great book and there are few of those, and throughout the ages that type of book has often generated into a classic, and what was once thought shocking and immoral is now required reading at many of our universities.

I am not saying that my book is one of those, but I am saying that in our time, at this moment when any moment may be the last for many of us, it’s damned galling and impossibly sad that we still have among us the small, bitter people, the witch-hunters and the declaimers against reality. Yet, these too belong with us, they are part of the whole, and if I haven’t written about them, I should, maybe have here, and that’s enough.

may we all get better together,
yrs,

Charles Bukowski


 
Via Letters of Note

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Charles Bukowski tells his worst hangover story: ‘The strangest thing just happened…’
01.18.2013
09:26 am

Topics:
Drugs
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski


Image via

It involves a lot of cheap wine, puking and… well, I don’t want to spoil it, I’ll just let him tell it.
 

 
Via The World’s Best Ever

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Happy birthday Bukowski
08.15.2012
09:42 pm

Topics:
Books
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski


 
In 1967 an older poet friend of mine, Zoltan Farkas, gave me a copy of Charles Bukowski’s “Crucifix in a Deathhand” and my life was changed forever. I went from being a teenager interested in being a writer to a one who absolutely had to be a writer. I quickly found out that attempting to write in Bukowski’s straight ahead style was much more difficult than it appeared. Shedding literary pretension and cutting to the heart of whatever is at hand is a process in which you have to get rid of everything that stands between you and the truth, including art.

Here’s a little video I made for one of my favorite Bukowski poems. “Something for The Touts, The Nuns, The Grocery Clerks And You” is Charles Bukowski at his absolute best - angry, bitter, sad, beautiful and funny. From the 1974 collection Burning In Water, Drowning In Flame.

The video is composed of found footage and clips from the works of Arthur Lipsett and Gregory Markopoulos.

If you think you’ve seen this here before, you have. I felt it worth sharing again.
 

 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Cool Charles Bukowski graffiti
07.03.2012
04:13 pm

Topics:
Art
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski
graffiti


Photo: Mirgun Akyavas
 
Austin, Texas has some of the finest examples of street art of any city on the planet. Here’s something that recently went up in the downtown area. I don’t know who did it and they may want to stay anonymous. If not, and you see this, let us know who you are so we can give you credit for this splendid piece of art.

To the right of the portrait is the famous Bukowski quote: “Some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must live.”

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Ben Gazzara as Charles Bukowski explains Style

gazzara_bukowski
 
Ben Gazzara performs Charles Bukowski’s poem “Style,” from Marco Ferreri’s film Tales of Ordinary Madness.

Style is the answer to everything
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous
thing
To do a dull thing with style is preferable
to doing a dangerous thing without it
To do a dangerous thing with style, is what
I call art
Bullfighting can be an art
Boxing can be an art
Loving can be an art
Opening a can of sardines can be an art
Not many have style
Not many can keep style
I have seen dogs with more style than men
Although not many dogs have style
Cats have it with abundance
When Hemingway put his brains
to the wall with a shotgun, that was style
For sometimes people give you style
Joan of Arc had style
John the Baptist
Christ
Socrates
Caesar
García Lorca
I have met men in jail with style
I have met more men in jail with style
than men out of jail
Style is a difference, a way of doing,
a way of being done
Six herons standing quietly in a pool of water,
or you, walking out of the bathroom naked without seeing me

A memorable definition, and a fine delivery from Gazzara, which you can compare against Bukowski’s reading below.
 

 
Bonus - Bukowski reads “Style”

 
Thanks Tara McGinley!
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Born Into This’: Charles Bukowski documentary


 
Charles Bukowksi (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) made me want to write and he made it look it look easy. But there is an art and skill to “easy” that is everything but easy. Finding your own true voice in writing is something multitudes of young novelists and poets have attempted only to watch their words lay there on the page like orderly dead flies. Shake em off and start over again.

Bukoswki made me want to write because he made writing seem essential to life, a sign of life, as important as breath or food or drink. As profane as Bukowski could be, he could also draw forth the spiritual in the most mundane of acts and make tying your shoe seem as profound as death.

Rich with footage shot by Taylor Hackford and Barbet Schroeder and plenty of talking heads who knew Bukowski well, Born Into This is probably the definitive documentary on the man.
 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Charles Bukowski walks past Charles Bukowski
12.05.2011
01:57 pm

Topics:
Heroes

Tags:
Charles Bukowski


 
I can’t find the provenance of this one. Anyone know?
 
Update: It’s from Bukowski’s “Shakespeare Never Did This” with photographs by German photographer Michael Montfort. Thanks to everyone who wrote in!
 
(via KMFW)

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Charles Bukowski: ‘I drink, I gamble, I write…’ the making of ‘Barfly’

barfly
 
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Charles Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical movie Barfly, with Mickey Rourke, Faye Dunaway, director Barbet Schroeder and the great, Bukowski, who explained the film’s title:

‘I was the barfly. I would open the bar and I would close the bar and I had no money. It was a place to be. It was my home.’

Bukowski wrote the script for Schroeder, who was so passionate about making a film with the poet, that when backers Canon planned to exclude the project form its production schedule, the director threatened to cut-off his own finger with a battery-powered saw if he didn’t get the finance to make it.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Two Undiscovered Poems by Charles Bukowski
05.06.2011
04:47 pm

Topics:
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski
Poetry
Yvonne de la Vega

image
 
LA poet, Yvonne de la Vega has located two of Charles Bukowski’s “undiscovered” poems, which are published today in the Examiner:

Charles Bukowksi’s first generally recognized publication date is in the 1960s, yet citations from the early 60s exist in Sanford Dorbin’s early bibliography, and The Roominghouse Madrigals prints poems from the late 40s.

The fact is that Bukowski has published extensively in various small literary publications for over thirty years. These publications exist in small numbers and are difficult if not impossible to find. Fortunately, John Martin of Black Sparrow Press has managed to cull together these poems and stories over several collections, until catching up with his contemporary writings in the 80s.

The following poems are from the private collection of The Los Angeles Poetry Examiner’s, copied from Pearl-Number 14 Fall/Winter 1991 and have yet to be found elsewhere.


An Answer

within the past six years
there have been four
different rumors that i
have died.
I don’t know who begins
these rumors
or why.
and certainly humans
do worse things than
this.
yet I always feel strange
when i must tell people,
usually over the
telephone, that I am
not yet dead.
somebody out there
or perhaps several
people
evidently get some
satisfaction
in announcing that I am
no longer
around.

some day,
some night
the announcement will be
true.
to put it mildly,
I am no longer
young.
but these death-
wishers
are an unsavory
group,
these hyenas,
these vultures,
these failed writers,
will also some day be dead,

their petty bitterness,
their lying gutless
beings gone into
the dark.
but for the moment,
I am here
and these last lines
are for them:
your cowardice will not be missed.
even the roaches
lived with more
honor
and you were always
dead
before
me
without
rumor.

Charles Bukowski 1991
San Pedro, California


On The Bum

moving from city to city
I always had two pairs of
shoes

my work shoes were
thick and black
and stiff.
sometimes when I
first put them on
they were very painful,
the toes were
hardened and bent
back
but I’d get them on
on a hangover
morning.
thinking, well
here we go
again.
working for
miserable wages
and expected to
be grateful
for that,
having been chosen
from a score of
applicants.

it was probably my
ugly and
honest face.

but putting on
those shoes
again
was always
the beginning.

i had always
imagined myself
escaping that.
making it at the
gaming table
or in the
ring
or in the bed
of some rich lady.

maybe I got
like that from
living too long in
Los Angeles,
a place far too
close to
Hollywood.

but going down
those roominghouse
steps
with each beginning,

the stiff shoes
murdering my
feet,
stepping out into
the early sun,
the sidewalk was
there,
and I was just one
more
common laborer,
one more
cpmmon
human,
the whole universe
sliding through
my head
and out my ears.
the timecard waited
to check me in
and out.
and afterwards
something to
drink and the
ladies from
hell.

work shoes
work shoes
work shoes
and me
them with
all the lights
turned
out.
 
Charles Bukowski 1991
San Pedro, California

 

Bonus clip: Bukowski gives a tour of Hollywood
 
Via the Examiner
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Charles Bukowski: Poet on the Edge exhibit at the Huntington
11.23.2010
06:02 pm

Topics:
Heroes
History
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski

image
 
It’s great to see that Los Angeles is finally starting to properly celebrate the life of one of her greatest writers, Charles Bulowski. Presently on exhibit at The Huntington is a show called “Charles Bukowski: Poet on the Edge,” drawn from the archive of his papers donated to the museum by his wife, Linda Lee Bukowski, in 2006. The exhibit is being held in the West Hall of the Library and continues through Feb. 14, 2011.

Among the rare items on view in the exhibition will be first editions of his works, including Ham on Rye (1982), the autobiographical novel about his brutal childhood and young adulthood; Factotum (1975), the fictional account of his succession of low-end jobs; and Barfly (1984), the screenplay he wrote for the 1987 film starring Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway. Corrected typescripts of poems and of the novels Pulp (1984) and Hollywood (1989) will also be on view. There will be original drawings by Bukowski, correspondence and fan mail, and large-format printings of his poems produced by the Black Sparrow Press and other fine printing houses. scarce, important “little magazines,” which were the first to publish Bukowski’s works, will include such publications as Wormwood Review, The Outsider, The Limberlost Review, and Runcible Spoon. More famous (or infamous) magazines like Oui and High Times will show a more lucrative aspect of Bukowski’s craft.

In addition, Linda Lee Bukowski is graciously lendng a number of iconic items, including Bukowski’s manual typewriter, an original oil portrait by John Register, and very scarce early books, including Flower, Fist & Bestial Wail (1960) and It Catches My Heart in Its Hand (1963).

Charles Bukowski continues to attract a huge following of readers who feel a deep connection to the writer who spoke for the downtrodden and disaffected.  Writing as an outsider, on the periphery of both society and the literary establishment, Bukowski knew that, for him, “the place to find the center is at the edge.”

Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Back alley Buddha in action - Bukowski documentary from 1973
10.06.2010
05:47 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Literature

Tags:
Charles Bukowski
Taylor Hackford

image
 
In 1967, an older poet friend of mine, Zoltan Farkas, gave me a copy of Bukowski’s Crucifix In A Death Hand and my life was changed forever. Imagine discovering Bukowski at 16, well before he became a hero to millions. Opening the pages of Crucifix opened up a whole new world to me, where writing was accessible and real, not a mystic art but a blunt weapon, a blackjack of words upside my head. He rescued poetry from academia and the bardic tradition and brought it down to earth, from marble halls to the sidewalk, from the bards to the bar. And he made it look so easy…but it isn’t. Taking the energy of language from where you got it, thu the poem to the reader, is tougher than it looks. Bukowski inspired me to write by making me feel it was possible. He taught me that poetry, great poetry, takes not only passion, it takes guts. Rimbaud, Henry Miller and Bukowski: the big 3.

Bukowski was directed by Taylor Hackford in 1973 and broadcast on KCET in Los Angeles. Hackford’s film was responsible for bringing Bukowski to a wider audience. It was said to have been lost forever, but remastered clips from the film appeared in the recent Bukowski documentary Born Into This. So, there must be a good master somewhere. Until an official version of this is re-released, here’s the best that is available.
 

 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
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