Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
The Rachael Rad Rating : 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. See a lot of ‘eh’ reviews. Have no idea if it’s my own involvement in film, writing and Los Angeles of the past that makes this tale a spark of real life. I believe it’s the writing alone that does it.
This is Bukowski as Bukowski, not ‘Hank’.
‘Hollywood’ was and still is a pleasure to read. A must have for any screen writer, rags to riches bum, alcoholic literary being, or the real reason to read Buk or Fante.. The Clean Line.
It’s the story of ‘Barfly’ (a Bukowski book) and the making of that film. It starred Mickey O’Rourke. Bukowski had such a wonderful time seeing the project through and it shows in this work. It is a peek into the real life of an icon.
Seems readers either love him or hate him. I met him in a bar, in Long Beach in the very early 80’s, and thought that he was a consummate asshole.
Based on a personal experience I refused to read any more of his work and filled myself with righteous indignation.
What an ass. Me. Not Buk.
The man could write. I feel that Bukowski is one of the Top 5 Best Writers of the 20th Century. His words could immediately sabotage the happiest fool, punch your lights out with the measure of anger at society, and stun you with his graphic and street-level view of humanity, and heighten your mind to poetic grace with his insights. Within the same piece all of these textures could be transfused. You loved with his heart and so hurt with his hurt.
He enjoyed doing live readings with a cooler on the stage next to him. Woe be to a heckler or someone foolish enough to speak too loudly. It’s true. Beer cans can fliy.
Hollywood is a personal story, filled with the real feelings and observations of an author finally revered for their work. Finally taken seriously. Finally able to let his personal side and thoughts of his life come out. It is quite different from any of his other writings. Well, so was Pulp. Pulp however… was truly the ‘eh’ Bukowski.
And Our Musical Selection For This Evening
Currently Listening: Hollywood Madness
The Rad Rachael Original Signed Vinyl Stack
Richie Cole plays an amazing, high energy, gorgeous alto. It’s scary-cool pure synchronicity that a sneaky little subconscious slapped this on the turntable while writing the Bukowski review.
First time I heard Richie I thought “Damn, this guy can blow.. and he’s white!” Couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard him play before. He was an L.A. fixture and his style is the combination of his be-bop roots, and late 70’s and early 80’s fusion. Richie Cole has added his raucous and heavenly talents to other musical acts ranging from Buddy Rich to Manhattan Transfer. That’s a lot of years and genres.
These were the days when my radio tastes went from punk to jazz. Oddly I could never get my punk rock friends interested in Sonny Rollins, Richie, Stanley Turentine or Weather Report. Conversely, the Jazz contingent would never end our nights with a stellar a cappella rendition of Beat on the Brat With A Baseball Bat.
Met Richie at the Queen Mary Jazz Festival in 1982 or ’83. Cool cat. Down to earth and a smile as big as the Ritz. We had a few beers and talked music, and life. Met up with him again at another festival in the early 90’s.
Holy Shit Batman. Age and drugs had taken a toll. No, his entire wallet.
Heard him play then later hit an after-party at a friend’s house. Richie sat alone on a couch, towards the back of the cluttered living room. Naturally I made a bee line and plopped the ass down beside him.
Couldn’t believe that nobody else at the party was in line to shake his hand. He lit up a doob and we smoked and people watched for a while.
Mentioned that I had talked with him before. He remembered me, or at least said he did. Which was nice.
His name, and remarkable style, had faded by 1994.
It was a comfortable chat and I’ll always remember the way it felt in that room. The cigarette smoke, a fire in the old stone fireplace, musicians aplenty, a very faint smell of spilled beer in old carpet, and the quiet peace of smoking a joint with a good friend. Maybe that was it. He wasn’t a long time friend, but he made me feel that way. Left the party and took Richie’s number with me, he took mine as well. A happy ‘I’ll call you when I’m back in town’ and that was the last time I saw him.
Heard later he’d been in and out of rehab for heroin. Same drug that clipped the wings of Bird. It explained his deteriorated appearance.
Never saw Richie again, but I’ve kept his albums through all the years of marriages, divorces (Divorce: noun. Meaning ‘to lose your favorite music.’) and cross-country moves.
Bukowski and Richie Cole are two great examples of my Hollywood. As a L.A. kid, New York City grown-up, Reno, Nevada hell-if-I-know, the memories of my original home and experiences are still easily stirred. Think it’s the same for anyone with a bit of dreamer inside.
A sight, a bar of music, a phrase on paper, can fill our souls with a spate of emotions.
Can’t think of a better reason to elicit Hooray for Hollywood.