Sketches Of A Hollywood Night

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Only one night in Hollywood,
we leave our little bungalow
under the Hollywood sign,
me and a buddy, and make
our way down to Hollywood Blvd
where bums sleep on brass stars
and the fragrance of rotten piss
and despair wafts thru the air.

Hollywood – the backdoor
of civilization – remnants of a dying
world. The wild-eyed tourists are
scattered like ants with phones out
trying to make sense of it all.

We duck into a dive bar called the
Frolic Room. Bukowski used to drink here.
There’s a painting of his damaged face
hung high up over the cash register.
No one in here has read Bukowski. No one
in here has read anything worth a damn.
The hipster clientele that now litters the place
deprives the ambiance of its nostalgic wonder.
We sit and drink and ponder old Hollywood.
A pop song comes on the jukebox.
A grown man with a slavish smile
dances to it. We shake our heads
in disgust and drink harder.

Then, in walks a blonde beauty with her uninspiring
man and they slowly make their way beside us
at the bar. She orders vodka. He orders water.
It was doomed from the start. He moseys on
to the bathroom and she makes eye contact
with me, gazes brazenly at the tattoos on
my arms, slides in a little closer and smiles
that devilish little smile that got her this
far in life. The devil tends to whisper in
ears of the lonely. I don’t look at her. I stare
straight ahead as my buddy says, “holy shit man,
she wants you.” I take a sip of beer and eye
the painting of Bukowski. Love is a dog from hell,
he told us. Her “man” comes back and they take a table
in the back of the bar. We down our 3rd drink.

I look out the door into the street.
The commotion seems senseless to me.
What are they after, these people? The
idea of progress has got them
all in a frenzy. Perhaps they’re
running away from themselves.

I scan the bar to see if there’s anyone
in this legendary place with a little style,
a little edge. I can’t find one. Our eyes
meet once again by mistake as her man
sits across from her. She takes a sip from
the straw of her vodka drink, does a little
something sexy with her tongue, then bats
those little bedroom eyes as I turn away.
They pay the check and walk out into the night,
her poor man completely in the dark
of the preceding scandal.

After another drink, we pay and head out too,
buy a six pack from a seedy convenient store
and drink beer up on a hill under the Hollywood
sign. We talk poetry and philosophy and listen
to the sirens and watch the lights of the city
flicker below us as we await the doom of
another dawn.

The Comfortable Life is Killing You

kavan-cardoza-dark-emotions-photography-project

Society tames the wolf into a dog.
And man is the most domesticated
animal of all.

~ Nietzsche


Despite existing in an era with the highest living standards in the history of mankind, despite having easy access to most of our material needs, recent polls have revealed that we modern people are miserable, angry, fearful, depressed, and riddled with anxiety. More so than ever before.

Depression rates have been steadily rising in the US since the mid-1930s. Approximately 40 million American adults are said to have an anxiety disorder. Depression and suicide rates, especially among teens, has risen drastically with the rise of social media and smartphones. Over six hundred thousand children 5 and under are on some type of psychiatric drug in the US. And opioid overdoses among American adults are out of control.

The question must be asked: Why? Continue reading

But there was no place to go

“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.”

Charles Bukowski

Art and Suicide

“The passion for destruction is also a creative passion.”
— Bakunin

“The road to creativity passes so close to the madhouse and often detours or ends there.”
― Ernest Becker


True artists are a different breed. They don’t live conventional lives or think conventional thoughts. Their art is inseparable from who they are.

Artists like Robin Williams have this unique ability to tap into the deepest caverns of the human condition and reveal it to the world. They live from within, from the center. They are mad– they have to be.

Painters, writers, poets, sculptors, and comedians all are. Williams was brilliant, but his art was dying. When an artist sees this happening and recognizes that their purpose, their creativity, their art, is dwindling, it’s the end. The final act. Some hang on miserably, or end up in mad houses, or cope with drugs & alcohol.

Some, unfortunately like Williams and many more,  grow unbearably weary from the daily rage against the dying of the light within. They fall deep into depression, a depression so dreadful that they choose the ultimate end.  But every man and woman have their reasons for every act they choose to do in life. Even the last.

As the beautifully mad poet Sylvia Plath once wrote prior to her suicide, “Dying / Is an art, like everything else.” And the great novelist Carson McCullers, “How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind?”

With all the outrage and criticisms of Williams’ suicide hurled from simpletons who lack the basic understanding of the complexity of the human being, I’m reminded of a short poem by Charles Bukowski:

Cause and Effect

the best often die by their own hand
just to get away,
and those left behind
can never quite understand
why anybody
would ever want to
get away
from
them

RIP Robin Williams

The Tragedy of the Leaves

By Charles Bukowski

I awakened to dryness and the ferns were dead,
the potted plants yellow as corn;
my woman was gone
and the empty bottles like bled corpses
surrounded me with their uselessness;
the sun was still good, though,
and my landlady’s note cracked in fine and
undemanding yellowness; what was needed now
was a good comedian, ancient style, a jester
with jokes upon absurd pain; pain is absurd
because it exists, nothing more;
I shaved carefully with an old razor
the man who had once been young and
said to have genius; but
that’s the tragedy of the leaves,
the dead ferns, the dead plants;
and I walked into a dark hall
where the landlady stood
execrating and final,
sending me to hell,
waving her fat, sweaty arms
and screaming
screaming for rent
because the world had failed us
both

Alone With Everybody

By Charles Bukowski

the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
much
and nobody finds the
one
but keep
looking
crawling in and out
of beds.
flesh covers
the bone and the
flesh searches
for more than
flesh.

there’s no chance
at all:
we are all trapped
by a singular
fate.

nobody ever finds
the one.

the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill

nothing else
fills.

Born Into This

“We are
Born like this
Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes”
― Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski: Madman, Drunkard, Poet

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

What’s not to like about one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Plenty, of course, but Charles Bukowski was a man, a man’s man,  with a  plague of demons constantly gnashing away at his soul. He was a poet, novelist, and all out alcoholic bastard. But through all his sins, he’s still one of the greatest, wittiest and intelligent writers I’ve ever read.  Though dead and gone, his works live on.

By the end of Bukowski’s tormented life, he managed to complete thousands of poems, multitudes of short stories and six novels. Most of these works were accomplished with heavy amounts of alcohol flowing through his bloodstream, that’s when he felt most ingenious. Thoughts bled from his brain like the liquor seeped from his pores and he left a glorious stench on the snobby literary world. His words flowered from the crevasses of the paved-road of life, flourishing into a despicable thing of truth and beauty. His poems were  hymns for the disenfranchised, lonely, and despaired. His contentment was found in the shadows of the midnight hour, drunkenly isolated, where his love of hatred and hatred of love bloomed under the raging moon.

Charles Bukowski was born in Germany and moved to California when he was a lad. His childhood memories were stained with thoughts of the  ill-treatment he received from his father and howling insecurity due to his horrific acne–which he spent the rest of his life drinking to forget. He was a well read young man who despised the intellectual snootiness that came from the collegiate world.  His  reactionary response was to become a self-taught, autodidactic type.  And he became that indeed.

Bukowski started writing short stories and poems while in high school. After his school years he became a type of drifter moving around from city to city, trying to gain material for his writings through intense living. He was an utter madman who was regularly harassed by depression, suicidal thoughts and excruciating hangovers. But that didn’t stop his writing.

The writer sums his way of life up in his own words when he said “I’m a cheap drunk. Get a few bottles in me and I can whip the whole world…and I want to.” He took his rage out on the lame condition of society by hiding in isolation and diluting his imposition with strong drink and cheap women; this was his freedom and rebellion against the dull 9-5 lives people were starting to adopt as a way of existence.

This is the time in the poet’s life that gave birth to his legendary, mystical and celebrated reputation: the drinking, whores, gambling, bar fights, carousing, and the bum life poor artist living.

His delight was found in two settings; dive bars and empty, cockroach infested rooms in the pitiable parts of town occupied only with a typewriter, desk and a bed. He loathed the typical American family life of manicured lawns and boring jobs. He despised the thought of factory men coming home to demanding wives and Cheetos stained, crying kids. It made him sick in his gut. His pleasure was in dark, smoky bars accompanied with a constant drunk vibe. His justification for drinking was to shake off the boredom of everydayness and to save himself from himself. Why kill yourself when you can just go and drink yourself numb? Chronic, slow suicide was his mission. It was his escape. It’s ironic that the poison which he used for a self-inflicted demise ended up being the juice that kept him alive, it got him though “the same stale yet fluctuating factors” of another day.

Bukowski was no stranger to passing out annihilated at lunch time hours behind diners, sleeping in the middle of roads and shack’n up with Los Angeles street-walkers.  This he considered his art form. The drunken writer roamed around the filthy parts of whatever town he was in at the time, delineated as a type of magnificent loner who valued his solitude and strong drink. He wanted nothing else.

Every town he entered, he was completely broke…deliberately. Bukowski always wanted to learn a new and strange town “from the bottom” and breathe it in from a bar stool. Bukowski’s idea of paradise was “where the black pimps are, where the music is playing, where the jukeboxes are playing in the bars, where the lights are on, that’s where life is”.  He believed that “black pimps, prostitutes [were] the flowers of the earth.” He thought whenever you cleaned up and fixed a city, “you killed it.” Busowski’s heart and soul was in the slums where people acted with passionate pursuits, even if it was considered immoral or insane. His constant bar fighting can be explained in my opinion, as an indirect craving for human connection, even if it meant a rapid fist to the temple. Pain was pleasure, pain was a friend, and pain was love.

His writings are highly autobiographical and amplified with a little exaggeration here and there. When he lodged his alcohol saturated body behind his old type writer, he was known to go at it for hours. He always sat two six-packs and pint of whiskey right next to him and just typed out poem after poem until he passed out, with classical music in the background. He loathed the rhyming poems and thought them to be out of date; he thought poetry should be the voice of the fringe folks from the desolate streets. Real people with real struggles.

When writing, he usually only ate one meal a day (usually just a peanut butter & jelly) and then spent his off time with his alcoholic, barfly whore named Jane…who had demons of her own. Their days usually consisted of an all day drink fest with a few sessions of drunk love-making thrown in…She actually drank more than him, if that was possible. By the time Bukowski was in his 50’s, he reached fame and became a sort of Rock Star in the literature world. He was performing intoxicating poetry readings across the universities, writing scripts for movies and hanging out with celebrities.  The Poet often became a victim of erotic seductions from sexy, young, college girls whose only desire was to have a one night stand with the overweight, drunk, aging man of words. He ate it up.

Bukowski’s last few years on earth were pretty docile. He still drank like a fish, replacing beer and liquor with white wines. He stayed up late writing and drinking, usually waking up around the noon hour and going to the horse track (his lifelong passion) and gambling. He eventually achieved the middle-class status that he spent his life ranting and rebelling against.

His genius was found in simplicity. He could poetically simplify life in one line of a poem. Bukowski’s art was the “ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.”

His mind was hampered with unthinkable thoughts and his soul was in a constant fiery rage that could only be tamed by the poison he drowned himself with. He believed his purpose-and everyone’s purpose- on earth was “to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” Charles Bukowski was finally overtaken by the trembling burden of Death in 1994 at the age of 73. I’d be willing to bet though, you could still find the ghost of the drunken Poet roaming under the L.A streetlights among the factory workers, corner pimps, addicts, prostitutes and bar stool philosophers… his middle finger waged at the boring, conformed world, with a mocking smile upon his calloused face and a bottle of wine in his relentless left hand.

Here is one of his greatest poem’s…

there is enough treachery, hatred violence absurdity in the average
human being to supply any given army on any given day

and the best at murder are those who preach against it
and the best at hate are those who preach love
and the best at war finally are those who preach peace

those who preach god, need god
those who preach peace do not have peace
those who preach peace do not have love

beware the preachers
beware the knowers
beware those who are always reading books
beware those who either detest poverty
or are proud of it
beware those quick to praise
for they need praise in return
beware those who are quick to censor
they are afraid of what they do not know
beware those who seek constant crowds for
they are nothing alone
beware the average man the average woman
beware their love, their love is average
seeks average

but there is genius in their hatred
there is enough genius in their hatred to kill you
to kill anybody
not wanting solitude
not understanding solitude
they will attempt to destroy anything
that differs from their own
not being able to create art
they will not understand art
they will consider their failure as creators
only as a failure of the world
not being able to love fully
they will believe your love incomplete
and then they will hate you
and their hatred will be perfect

like a shining diamond
like a knife
like a mountain
like a tiger
like hemlock

their finest art