Monday, February 16, 2009

Charles Bukowski : A Tribute

There are times I like to go off course and talk about things not really sports related.

Though the man I speak of often wrote about his love for going to the track and betting on the horse, which gives this a slight taste of sports involvement, I rather speak of other areas.

Charles Bukowski was dubbed "The Poet Laureate of Skid Row" by many.

Bukowski had an alter ego named Hank Chinaski. Hank was the character used to tell us the stories of Buk's life in stories like Post Office, Ham And Rye, Women, and others.

Charles was born in a strict household run by an abusive father and relenting mother. They had met in Germany after World War I, and eventually moved to Baltimore, Maryland in 1928 when Charles was 8 years old. They moved to Los Angeles, California two years later, and Charles would call the area home through most of his life. He was shy throughout his childhood, and suffered from severe acne in his teens that ended up scarring his skin. It was during his teens that Buk found his "true love". Alcohol. Charles wrote of how the bottle was something that "is going to help me for a very long time." He ended up attending a community college for two years, but longed for more. He began traveling the United States. He even was arrested by the FBI in Philadelphia during 1944 for suspected draft invasion and spent 17 days incarcerated before being given an 4-F due to flunking the physical and psychological exams given by the military. After having two short stories published by the age of 26, Buk quit writing and went on "a ten year drunk". During that time he traveled the country and spending most of the moneys he made doing small jobs in each town on alcohol. After nearly dying of a bleeding ulcer in 1955 from excessive drinking, Buk went back to writing during a time where he got married and divorced and having his only child with a girlfriend. The 1960's saw Buk get a few short stories and poems published, while writing a weekly column for an underground newspaper titled, "Notes of A Dirty Old Man". He also spent his nights working for the United States Postal Service as a letter filing clerk to earn income. At the end of the decade, he accepted an offer from a publisher, John Martin of Black Sparrow Press, to quit the post office and focus on writing.

Buk spent the next twenty four years writing six novels, six books of poetry, thirteen books of short story collections, and four non fiction books. He died in 1994, and has had eighteen books published since that include all his previously unpublished works. He also wrote a screenplay for a movie, BARFLY, in which he even had a cameo scene in it. FACTOTUM was a book of his recently turned into a movie in 2005. He also starred in an autobiographical movie released a decade after his death titled BUKOWSKI: BORN INTO THIS.

Here are just a few of my favorite things he has written or drawn :

ART : As The Spirit Wanes, The Form Appears

“Some people never go crazy, what truly horrible lives they must live”

"Women are meant to suffer; no wonder they asked for constant declarations of love"

"I have one of two choices — stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve."

"Humanity, You never had it from the beginning."

"The people walk with such an indifference I begin to hate them, but then again I've never really been fond of anything."

“There was nothing really as glorious as a good beer shit—I mean after drinking twenty or twenty-five beers the night before. The odor of a beer shit like that spread all around and stayed for a good hour-and-a-half. It made you realize that you were really alive.”

"It was true that I didn't have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?"

"Human relationships didn't work anyhow. Only the first two weeks had any zing, then the participants lost their interest. Masks dropped away and real people began to appear: cranks, imbeciles, the demented, the vengeful, sadists, killers. Modern society had created its own kind and they feasted on each other. It was a duel to the a cesspool."

"I could see the road ahead of me. I was poor and I was going to stay poor. But I didn't particularly want money. I didn't know what I wanted. Yes, I did. I wanted someplace to hide out, someplace where one didn't have to do anything. The thought of being something didn't only appall me, it sickened me . . . To do things, to be part of family picnics, Christmas, the 4th of July, Labor Day, Mother's Day . . . was a man born just to endure those things and then die? I would rather be a dishwasher, return alone to a tiny room and drink myself to sleep."

"The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn't interest you. This situation so repelled me that I was driven to drink, starvation, and mad females, simply as an alternative."

"Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you're allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It's like killing yourself, and then you're reborn. I guess I've lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now."

"I was naturally a loner, content just to live with a woman, eat with her, sleep with her, walk down the street with her. I didn't want conversation, or to go anywhere except the racetrack or the boxing matches. I didn't understand t.v. I felt foolish paying money to go into a movie theatre and sit with other people to share their emotions. Parties sickened me. I hated the game-playing, the dirty play, the flirting, the amateur drunks, the bores."

"This is a world where everybody’s gotta do something. Ya know, somebody laid down this rule that everybody’s gotta do something, they gotta be something. You know, a dentist, a glider pilot, a narc, a janitor, a preacher, all that . . . Sometimes I just get tired of thinking of all the things that I don’t wanna do. All the things that I don’t wanna be. Places I don’t wanna go, like India, like getting my teeth cleaned. Save the whale, all that, I don’t understand that . . ."

"There's nothing to mourn about death any more than there is to mourn about the growing of a flower. What is terrible is not death but the lives people live or don't live up until their death. They don't honor their own lives, they piss on their lives. They shit them away. Dumb fuckers. They concentrate too much on fucking, movies, money, family, fucking. Their minds are full of cotton. They swallow God without thinking, they swallow country without thinking. Soon they forget how to think, they let others think for them. Their brains are stuffed with cotton. They look ugly, they talk ugly, they walk ugly. Play them the great music of the centuries and they can't hear it. Most people's deaths are a sham. There's nothing left to die."

"The problem was you had to keep choosing between one evil or another, and no matter what you chose, they sliced a little bit more off you, until there was nothing left. At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole god-damned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidates who reminded them most of themselves. I had no interests. I had no interest in anything. I had no idea how I was going to escape. At least the others had some taste for life. They seemed to understand something that I didn't understand. Maybe I was lacking. It was possible. I often felt inferior. I just wanted to get away from them. But there was no place to go."

If I stop writing I am dead. And that's the only way I'll stop: dead.

Highly Recommended Works :










Anonymous said...

that was AWESOME to read 3rd & i loved the pics with it! thank you for posting this!

ayoung said...

you should read burning in water drowning in flame or love is a dog from hell, I'm not normally a fan of poetry, but how can you not love Bukoski's take on a forlorn heart?