>Charles Bukowski Mondays

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Contribution to Voyagers “Poetry in Motion” Series from the 1990’s

By Charles Bukowki

Transcript:
“Reading the poets has been the dullest of things. Even reading the great novelists of the past, I said, “Tolstoy is supposed to be special?” I go to bed, I read War and Peace. I read it, I read it, I say, “Where is the specialist in War and Peace?” I really tried to understand. I mean, and then many of the great poets of the past, I’ve read their stuff. I’ve read it. All I get is a goddamn headache and boredom. I really feel sickness in the pit of my stomach, I say “There’s some trick going on here, this is not true. This is not real, its not good.”
You see poetry itself contains as much energy as a Hollywood industry. As much energy as a stage play on Broadway. All it needs is practitioners who are alive to bring it alive. Poetry has always been said to be a private, hidden art. Not to be appreciated. The reason it’s not appreciated is because it hasn’t shown any guts, hasn’t shown any dance. Hasn’t shown any moxie. Poetry is generally very dull, very pretensive. Uh, those who say the poet is very private and precious person, I don’t agree with. Generally, he is just a dumb, fiddling asshole writing insecure lines that don’t come through, believing he’s immortal, waiting for his immortality which never arrives. Because the poor fucker just can’t write. Most poets, coets, whoets, carrots, can’t even write a simple line. Like, “The dog walked down the street.”Nothing should ever be done that should be done. It has to come out like a good hot beer shit. A good hot beer shit is glorious man. You get up, turn around, look at it and your proud. The fumes, the stink of the turd, you look, you say, “God, I did it. I’m good.” Then you flush it away and there is a sense of sadness when just the water is there. It’s like writing a good poem, you just do it. You, its a beer shit. There’s nothing to analyze, nothing to say it’s just done. Got it?
I really hate reading verse because you’re really getting up there. You’ve written poems that you really meant alone, you know, by you’re typewriter, then there’s crowd out there drinking beer and all that. And you’re reading it to them. The writer has no responsibility. Except to jack off and bed (vet?) alone and type a good page. I continued writing even though it came back and got drunk for 10 years. I felt there was nothing out there. So I had to continue because they were so bad, not because I was so good. And I’m still not so good, but they’re still very bad. There is still room for somebody to step in here you see, and I hope he arrives or she.
That should be enough right there, with that bottle of 55 poets, that should cure them. With their melody but it wont. Goodnight, goodbye, and happy reading.

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>Weekend Literary Inspirations:

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The Origins of Joy in Poetry

By Jack Kerouac
Chicago Review, 1958

The new American poetry as typified by the SF Renaissance (which means Ginsburg, me, Rexroth, Ferlinghetti, McClure, Corso, Gary Snyder, Phil Lamantia, Phil Whalen, I guess) is a kind of new-old Zen Lunacy poetry, writing whatever comes into your head as it comes, poetry returned to its origin, in the bardic child, truly ORAL as Ferling said, instead of gray faced Academic quibbling. Poetry & Prose had for a long-time fallen into the false hands of the false. These new pure poets confess forth for sheer joy of confession. They are the CHILDREN. They are also childlike graybeard Homers singing in the street. They SING, they SWING. It is diametrically opposed to the Eliot shot, who so dismally advises his dreary negative rules like the objective correlative, etc, which is just a lot of constipation and ultimately emasculation of the pure masculine urge to freely sing. In spite of the dry rules he set down his poetry itself is sublime. I could say a lot more but ain’t got time or sense. But SF is the poetry of a new Holy Lunacy like that of ancient times (Li Po, Han Shan, Tom O Bedlam, Kit Smart, Blake) yet it also has the mental discipline of pointing out things directly, purely concretely, no abstractions or explanations, wham wham the true blue song of man.

(His complete view of himself as a poet)

>Nostalgia Fridays: 1950’s J.Ds and Rock n Roll

>On this week’s episode of Nostalgia Friday I present you with a clip of several Juvenile Delinquent movie trailers. It is hard to imagine that these movie trailers of: teenagers rockin’ to an unfamiliar beat, racing down the streets in their hot rods, and on their motorcycles, and fighting each other with switchblade knives were treated as sycophants, “teenage cycle hounds going out for thrills, laughing at danger playing at love, the kind of playing that leads to plenty of trouble.” That this type of behavior was the scourge of society, when in present day terms seems somewhat ridiculous and tame. It was, of course, a different time. American societal worries were few and far between. Where “Leave it To Beaver,” “Ozzie and Harriet” reigned supreme and the rock n roll phase, to some, was about to be fazed out.

I recently bought a cd called “Rock N Roll & Rock A Billy Inferno.”
It is a fabulous compilation of music from the 1950’s with Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent and many other Rock n Rollers. What fascinates me about this 2-disc set though are the multiple tracks of actual radio broadcasts and commercials from the era. Beginning with: an interview radio DJ Bob Neal had with Elvis Presley before one of his shows in Texicana in 1955 (which also introduced, by name, a young performer named Johnny Cash), leading to a actual commercial for a 1957 Chevy and a debate with Beat Generation Poet Allen Ginsburg and others talking about the “Beat Generation” in 1959.
The coup de gras and most eye and ear opening, in my mind, is a debate on the Meaning of Rock n Roll in 1958 between an unknown interviewer and debater. It is an amazing listen and to hear some of what the debater speaks on about the relevance to what he believes rock n roll music to be and his idea that, at that time in 1958, it would be fazed out.

Interviewer: “Now, you know rock n roll, I think you’ll agree, by in large has a bad name. Whose responsible for it?”

Debater: “Steve, the fact that parents did the same thing doesn’t make it right. I mean, all I hear is that parents when they
were young fell into the same trap. Well, I say the trap is getting deeper. There is no doubt that its interpretation. The very fact that it appeals to a certain kind of interpreter. For instance if I say, (in a Sinatra voice) ‘I love you truly, truly’. But if I say, (in a raspy voice) “I love you truly’ and weave my eyes, twist my body when I say ‘I love you truly, truly’ you know what I attend to convey when I say ‘I love you truly’ that way. This is doing a great disservice and its being done strictly for profit. And incidentally this program is about four weeks to late because rock n roll is on it’s way out as you know.

Interviewer: “Is it on the way out?”

Debater: With all do respect Joe, you being an attorney and I love ya, your a wonderful fellow its on its way out. Irving and LP records are in their way in.

Interviewer: “LP records are on their way in, but rock n roll is just beginning to make itself. I think the fact that a definite dance beat has been reestablished for the kids. I don’t think the lyrics to which you were referred to, the lyrics to which you referred before as having a particular connotation. I think we can go to any…

Debater: “Well how was Rock n Roll born!? Rhythm and Blues and race. Now Joe, you know that Rock n Roll was born out of Rhythm and Blues and race, written by people who didn’t know the english language, didn’t know how to spell, didnt know how to play but could accompany themselves on the guitar and so forth and that’s how Rock n Roll was born. And you know that, along came a clever fellow whose, like Buck Ram, who knew how to write good songs and to make a profit and I don’t blame them for it, they imitated Rhythm and Blues and race and created Rock n Roll…

Interviewer: “Why did it get so popular though?”

Debater: “Anything can become popular over night. It’s a six-month sensation, a year sensation. This is very fast era, that little thing called radio can make 170 people conscious of a thing AND unconscious all within one week ya know.”

Quite fascinating I must say. I wonder what became of that debater.

>President Obama Makes CNN’s Ed Henry His "Companion"

>I watched as President Obama addressed America and the White House Press Corps last night, and like many of the other responses afterwards, a few moments stood out in my mind head and shoulders above the rest: 1) The “race” question and 2) his smack down of Ed Henry from CNN.
I am not about to tout myself an expert on politics or on presidential White House press corps addresses, as I have only since the 2008 Presidential campaign jumped upon the bandwagon. Therefore, with regards to addressing the WH press corps last night, I am not sure how exciting or dull they are in general-or what are deemed stupid or insightful questions. Yet, I do have opinions on what I believe were important and exciting issues and topics.

To be honest, I watched unfazed, except for a few “yes we can” and “go on with your bad self” moments under my breath, as questions were being asked and answers were given. Until the President’s unequivocal straight forwardness to the “oh no he didn’t” moment(s) stated above. With regard to the “race” question the woman reporter asked on whether his first weeks in office have been colorblind, which seemed extremely vague and open ended, Obama reacted in a considerate and respectful way. Mulling over his answer with thought and precision. He spoke that the focus has been on the economy, not about race. He said the convention and inauguration was a time to address race, “but that lasted about a day.” As I now watch and read enthusiastically and with concern each day about what our government is doing to keep this country out of the “porcelain god” the Bush administration flushed us in, it is a relief to see our Commander in Chief put some smackdown on questions like Ed Henry asked on why it took a while for Obama to reveal his outrage toward the AIG bonuses, “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I am talking about before I speak.”

In the words of Keith Olbermann, “Ooo snap!”

In The Washington D.C. bubble in which these politicians and reporters live; where as I read somewhere Michigan could be considered a foreign country to them, and their constant 24-hour addictive craving for information, it is as if the idea of a head of state or even an elected official visiting and meeting with Main Street instead of Wall Street and actually thinking before speaking is a novel one. It blows my mind.

On MSNBC tonight, Keith Olbermann interviewed Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. They spoke on the reaction towards this news conference and rather bluntly in particular, the way Ed Henry got “owned” by the president where by Robinson uses, in layman’s terms, a sports analogy of Kobe Bryant doing a reverse 360 degree windmill tomahawk jam over and in the face of his opponent and acknowledging the fact that “the guy just made you his companion.”

At that moment I burst out laughing as well did Keith Olbermann because well… it was true. He did get “owned”. President Obama’s blunt, straight forward comment to Ed Henry I believe not only answered the question that was asked but sent a message to the country and within the Washington D.C. bubble that this president will think before he speaks.

Change has truly come to.

>Drinking and Waiting…With a Smile

>I went to a wedding this past weekend back home in Alaska. I watched as my best friend since grade school tied the knot. Went the distance. Took the plunge. Whatever analogy you would like to use, he is now grown up, the husband to a wonderful woman and I could not be happier. Being surrounded by the many friends and families that he and I both grew up with from the days of our youth and today, it felt like, not only a wedding of two friends, but of a family reunion of sorts. Growing up together all these years, I knew I would see the many different faces of my past; from grade school to high school. And like high school, I ended up traversing, mingling from person to person as I did a decade ago.
It was refreshing, cathartic. To be able to go up to nearly everyone there and begin again where we had left off. Not having the anxiety, constant and perpetual tiresome feeling of starting from scratch. Boring out nearly entire life stories. No, this time, we all knew each other’s lives and watched as two of our own continued theirs together; it was something to witness.
The groom and I have had our ups and we have had our downs, we’ve had our share of bickering, laughter and tears. Yet, as with true friends both past and present, the good times always outlast the bad. Being a year older than I, he was like the big brother I never had. I could confide in him, lay down my guard with him, be myself with him. At a time where I questioned my place in society, his friendship made life easy. As I contemplate, I am reminded of a quote I have seen before from Henri Nouwen:

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

and Charles Bukowski:

“That is what friendship means. Sharing the prejudice of experience.”

Knowing that I can physically, or rather vicariously, go back home to my birthplace and see my friend(s) makes being alone tolerable. He let me be who I was and there was never a need to apologize for that. Like Bukowski, who in my view was the writer most comfortable in his own skin, demonstrated in simplicity the darker side of life, while shining through with style and unapologetic fervor. Even his friends and lovers knew who he was and accepted, or rather tolerated him. As, A.D Winans, a long time friend, wrote of Bukowski:

He would be the first
To tell you that
He was an asshole and
He was
And so are you and
Sometimes more and
Sometimes less
Depending on
The
Circumstances
He would be the first
To admit that
He was a hustler and
A con man and
He was both
But he did it with style
Which is more
Than you can say
For most of us

Amen
Rest in Peace

As I sit here scribbling once again all alone, reminiscing the past and my friend as silence mushrooms the air, I crack a grin. Things have changed. Time has changed. Therefore, I leave you with a poem called “drink and wait” by Charles Bukowski:

well, first Mae West died
and then George Raft,
and Eddie G. Robinson’s
been gone
a long time,
and Bogart and Gable
and Grable,
and Laurel and
Hardy
and the Marx Brothers,
all those Saturday
afternoons
at the movies
as a boy
are gone now
and I look
around this room
and it looks back at me
and out through
the window pane,
time hangs helpless
from the doorknob
as a gold
paperweight
of an owl
looks up at me
(an old man now)
who must endure
these many empty
Saturday
afternoons.

I can now drink and wait alone with a smile.
Thank you Bukowski
Thank you dear friend

>Charles Bukowski Mondays

>Observations on music

By Charles Bukowski

I have sat for thousands of nights
listening to symphony music on the radio;
I doubt that there are many men my age
who have listened to as much classical music
as I have-
even those in the profession

I am not a musicologist
but
I have some observations:
1) the same 50 or 60 classical compostions
are played over and over
and over again.
2) there has been other great music written that we
ignore at our peril.
3) the second movement of most symphonies
is only kind to insomniacs
4) chamber music has every right to be energetic
and entertaining
5)very few composers know how to END their
symphonies
but
most opening movements, like romance, have
early charm.
6) I prefer a conductor who inserts his own
interpretation rather than the purist who blindly follows
the commands of the master.
7) of course, there are always some conductors with so much ego and
“interpretation” that the composer
vanishes.
8) music is much like fucking, but some composers can’t
climax and others climax too often, leaving themselves and the listener
jaded and spent.
9) humor is lacking in most so-called great musical
compositions.
10) Bach is the hardest to play badly because he made so few spiritual mistakes.
11) almost all symphonies and operas could be
shorter.
12) too much contemporary music is written from the safe
haven of a university. a composer must still experience life in its raw form in order
write well.
13) music is the most passionate of the art forms;
I wish I had been a musician or a composer.
14) very few writers know how to END a poem like this one
15) but I do.

>Charles Bukowski Mondays

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Beasts Bounding Through Time
By Charles Bukowski

Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
Hemingway testing his shotgun
Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
the impossibility of being human
Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
the impossibility of being human
Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
Mailer stabbing his
the impossibility of being human
Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
Dostoyevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
Crane off the back of a boat into the propeller
the impossibility
Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
Lorca murdered in the road by Spanish troops
the impossibility
Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
Chatterton drinking rat poison
Shakespeare a plagiarist
Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
the impossibility the impossibility
Nietzsche gone totally mad
the impossibility of being human
all too human
this breathing
in and out
out and in
these punks
these cowards
these champions
these mad dogs of glory
moving this little bit of light toward us
impossibly.