today is charles bukowski’s birthday.

my hero. the greatest writer of all time. the reason for everything.

tonight i write to you from hollywood california, where the king of the world once lived. lived for a long time. drank mostly but lived a lot too.

bukowski, savior to the underclass, defender of the forgotten. hope to the ugly and the scarred and the uncool and the sick.

proof that poetry can come from everywhere, even the drunkard in the corner with the bag around his bottle.

like most great things, the Lord showed me bukowski in a library. procrastinating as always i roamed the 8th floor stacks in santa barbara and found a tidy little row of one bukowski novel after another. mixed in were poems. quick little ones, longer ones.

lines that floated in space

gave you time to think about them

everyday language in everyday settings like diners and hotel rooms and train stations and factories.

bukowski showed us that the hero of the story could have a nickel to his name and bad breath

and maybe not even the best intentions even, but he was alive and therefore somehow important, and the story would explain what first glance couldn’t.

the lesson of bukowski is the lesson for anything: don’t give up, you might not be an american idol at nineteen, you might not be born with the looks of a kennedy, you might not always have the luck o the irish, you might not even ever have a number one best seller on the ny times list. but you still have a shot at being the best because being the best isn’t about movie star looks, units moved, or luck.

being the best is about banging it out every day and every night better than the next guy, and definitely better than the pretty boy. its about taking back the night. its about picking fights until everyone knows that you’re in the ring and you might not be the king of each battle but you’re a force to be reckoned with. somehow.

bukowski didn’t have to speak french in his novels the way hemingway did. he didn’t have to tap dance around his drinking or stick his pinkie out or have to use the right glass or be international. he just fucking drank.

hem talked about wars and signed up and fought and buk fought too except he didn’t have the luxury of leaving after a few years, hank fought for decades. and lost for decades.

hemingway was 24 when he wrote the sun also rises and it was published immediately.

bukowski never had a steady publisher until he was nearly twice that, hell, he didn’t even start writing seriously until he was in his late thirties, but as soon as he started writing he never stopped. not even his mindless fulltime job at the LA post office that nearly killed him after his third year got in the way of his writing. in fact, when he returned to the grind and stayed there 12 more years, he finished his run by knocking out one of the finest novels of the american working class “Post Office.”

As a matter of fact, once John Martin launched Black Sparrow Press out of his own pocket, pretty much just to allow bukowski to quit his job and write as much as he wanted, he reeled off an impressive string of novels and poetry collections of high quality, creativity, and depth.

Notes of a Dirty Old Man, 1969

Post Office, 1971

Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, 1972

South of No North, 1973

Burning in Water Drowning in Flame, 1974

Factotum 1975

Love Is A Dog From Hell, 1977

Women, 1978

Play The Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin To Bleed A Bit, 1979

Dangling in the Tournefortia, 1981

Ham On Rye 1982

Hot Water Music, 1983

i like bukowski because he barely bitched about his lot in life. he didn’t run around saying oh woe is me. he didn’t write about how ts eliot was kicking his ass in book sales. he didn’t whine about how a certain young lady said she wouldn’t f him even if she lost a bet.

one thing bukowski did that i wish i had the guts to do was send his shit out to the world. he mailed off his poems and his stories and his everythings out to the publishers and magazine editors and newspapers and they mailed pretty much everything back.

far too punk rock for the good paying literature mags of his day, bukowski was forced to write for sex papers underground magazines and collections of unheard poets and writers. but unlike van gogh he kept at it. getting little nibbles here and there. writing regardless. telling the stories of everyday life in americas lower class.

he married a wealthy five-foot tall texan with a stiff neck, divorced her, and then married two other times.

late in his life good luck found him and not only did he die wealthy and famous, but he lived the last decade of his life respected for staying true to himself, never selling out or changing for the times or for the big bucks.

his stories and novels live on. his poems resonate stronger now than ever. theres not a writer alive who match him with the one-two punch of poetry and fiction, longevity, and production.

and unlike papa hemingway and the other quote unquote important american writers other than twain, bukowski could make you laugh.

kyle + kevin m. + xtracyx

“I like your books”

by Charles Bukowski

In the betting line the other day

man behind me asked,

“are you Henry Chinaski?”

“uh huh,” I answered.

“I like your books,” he went on.

“thanks,” I answered.

“who do you like in this race?” he asked.

“uh uh,” I answered.

“I like the 4 horse,”

he told me.

I made my bet and went back

to my seat….

the next race I am standing in line

and here is this same man

standing behind me again.

there are at least 50 lines at

the windows but he has to find

mine again.

“I think this race favors the

closers,” he said to the back of

my neck.

“the track looks heavy.”

“listen,” I said,

not looking around,

“it’s the kiss of death to talk about horses

at the track…”

“what kind of rule is that?”

he asked. “God doesn’t make


I turned around and looked at him:

“maybe not, but I do.”

after the next race

I got in line, glanced behind me:

he was not there:

lost another reader.

I lose 2 or 3 each week.


let ’em go back to Kafka.

even though she’s going to soon leave me

here in this dark cold unfriendly city alone, today danielle was in the best mood i think ive ever seen her in.

the boys dont even strip search her the way they used to when she would try to gain access into the xbi, theyre all hey danielle how was your weekend.

she tells them and they smile and look down her dress but she doesnt care, shes outta here soon, shes off to rad school, shes playing that game of life the way you oughtta, taking the long cut through College and soon she will have a pink and blue peg in her lil car in no time

and you’ll see her shopping at the gelsons, watching the mexican load her mercedes, telling her kids to shush shush mommy has to make a phone call

and you’ll remember these days like i will when she skips to my desk in the hangar twirling around and hopping on my lap whispering in my ear and saying

lets blow this taco stand at noonish and have an early lunch.

to which i said, my love, ive forgotten my camera at the hideout.

and she replied, where for art thou camera of magic

and i said over by my hollywood hills cabana

and at noonish we sped across town feeling like a zillion bucks, exchanging good lucks, and she made a to-go order with palms thai via her cellular phone, and there it was waiting for us when we arrived. ta-da.

so we ate it at my place. we watched a little south park, she tried on several of the sunglasses that i purchased via ebay. and we had to drive home.

had to, i say, because it was so warm outside and so nice, and we were having so much fun, that we really just wanted to rip off each others clothes and hang out at my house drinking gin and juice and giving the finger to the man.

but alas we’re good little injuns and we drove back to work, where we arent loved the way we should be, work that doesnt pay us what we should earn, work that doesnt even really want us

and during the ride home danielle said “i will miss you so much tony.”

i said, “i dont believe you.”

she said, “how can i prove to you that i mean what i say?”

i said, “lift up your dress a little and let me photograph your lovely legs for the good readers of my blog.”

and she not only lifted her little dress for you, my sweet friends,

but for america as a whole.

and parts of canada.

jess + jennifer + sk smith


there’s a bluebird in my heart that

wants to get out

but I’m too tough for him,

I say, stay in there, I’m not going

to let anybody see you.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that

wants to get out

but I pour whiskey on him and inhale

cigarette smoke

and the whores and the bartenders

and the grocery clerks

never know that

he’s in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that

wants to get out

but I’m too tough for him,

I say,

stay down, do you want to

mess me up?

you want to screw up the works?

you want to blow my book sales in Europe?

there’s a bluebird in my heart that

wants to get out

but I’m too clever, I only let him out

at night


when everybody’s asleep.

I say, I know that you’re there,

so don’t be sad.

then I put him back,

but he’s singing a little

in there,

I haven’t quite let him die

and we sleep together like that

with our

secret pact

and it’s nice enough to

make a man weep,

but I don’t weep,

do you?

today is charles bukowski’s birthday 8/16/20

poem for my 43rd birthday + my bukowski photo essay + ebay listings “bukowski

name: dumbass

location: hollywood

hair color? skintone

eye color? brown and occassionally bloodshit

age? hundred and something

sexiest man ever? prince

do you like your breasts? they’re hairy, theyre firm, they dont sag, whats not to love?

color of your bathing suit: white, blue, and frequently unused

is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? depends on if the love was worth it.

give me a book, movie, CD, and song recommendation. cruddy, my life as a dog, loretta lynn’s van lear rose, band+girls+money

what could you never tell your parents? who wil wheaton is and how many more hits he gets than me every damn day.

are you in a romantic relationship right now? several, however, unfortunately none are sexual

paper or plastic? plastic which i then recycle at the store

favorite song lyric? if only you were lonely/i’d go home with you

tell me a secret: theres not as much lying going on here as i would like

are you a good liar? the best, which is why i try not to abuse it

opinion on gay marriage? if we enforced the “till death do you part” commitment then marriage would mean something. therefore all of this is just a piss test to see who the homosexual more. currently the president is winning that dubious honor.

if you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? i would have interned for the LA Times a long time ago.

what’s your favorite accent? pillow talk

are you on antidepressants? fuck modern medicine until they can cure the common cold.

tell me a joke: half of america will vote for bush

everyone knows most people are… better than they come across on television

vous-parlez francais? un petite peut

is there a song or a CD or something that you strongly associate with a certain event in your life? i cant listen to the ramones’s version of “do you wanna dance” without thinking about the time that my friends’s apartment was being raided by the cops on the same night that the xbi poisoned me with six hits of liquid acid and i could barely walk let alone skateboard.

how have you changed in the past year? ive given up on all of my dreams. (in a good way.)

what is one thing you want to do before you die? triplets.

do you like to travel? mais oui.

states you’ve been to: almost all of them.

what countries have you been to? england, france, italy, sweden, denmark, belgium, switzerland, germany, mexico, aruba, spain.

where do/did you go to school?:

medinah high school, santa monica college, uc isla vista

smoke cigarettes? only while undercover

lucky number: 666

favorite super hero: underdog

favorite sport: competitive blogging

worst mistake you ever made: not marrying my true love in frisco

if you were an animal, what would you be? endangered

last cd you bought: American IV: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash

last movie you saw: magnolia

favorite tv channel: E!

ever been arrested? not yet

ever had to have surgery? im indestructible

kind of bike you had as a kid? schwinn with a banana seat and a sissy bar

kind of phone: lame ass big one.

lefty or righty: im a deadly slap hitter from both sides of the plate, but i have suprising power from the right side.

what would you want to do if you got drunk? smoke.

do you like your name? it’ll do for now.

what do you want to be when you grow up? fat(er)

favorite concert you have been to? replacements at the roxy in LA circa 1986

favorite board game: APBA

favorite drink: baileys tall with some ice and some cream

favorite sound: bacon crackling in the morning at a new girls house

favorite smell: freshly cut wrigley field grass in the early morning

drinks with or without ice cubes? this is 2004. such things shouldnt even have to be asked. the question should be what type of ice. i like the ones that look like little life preservers because the girls like to play little kissing games.

favorite thing to do on the weekends: think about writing

favorite soundtrack: urg: a music war

what was the first thing you thought to yourself when you woke up this morning: god im lucky.

what are you doing after you finish this? looking for a picture to put next to it. or two.

who did you get this from: fragrant de milo

litwack + planet sara + tim blair