Literary Crush: Charles Bukowski


Hey, being an LA Music Blog, it is only natural that BitCandy are Charles Bukowski fanboys! So today, we shut down the shoegaze, chillwave, whateveraze, to instead indulge in a moment of literary reflection, courtesy of this last REAL rock star.

Charles Bukowski was one of those rare poets who didn't write like their head was royally wedged up their ass. His dirty, dirty realism was raw, real and most importantly, relatable, touching on everyday topics like sex, love and alcohol (or lack of all three).  And yes, some of his original poems with writer corrections hang in the BitCandy offices.  

But if you are yet to encounter any of Bukowski's work, well baby, you've come to the right place. Scroll on down for three Bukowski treats to send you off into your sinister, beer-stained night.


The Shoelace

To kick off our Bukowski marathon, a live reading of one of his most brutal of ballads, “The Shoelace,” which muses those “continuing series of small tragedies that send a man to the madhouse.” Take note, Mitt Romney: this is what life is like for those 47% of Americans who you don't give a shit about!

“a woman, a
tire that’s flat, a
disease, a
desire: fears in front of you,
fears that hold so still
you can study them
like pieces on a
it’s not the large things that
send a man to the
madhouse. death he’s ready for, or
murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood…
no, it’s the continuing series of small tragedies
that send a man to the
not the death of his love
but a shoelace that snaps
with no time left …
The dread of life
is that swarm of trivialities
that can kill quicker than cancer
and which are always there -
license plates or taxes
or expired driver’s license,
or hiring or firing,
doing it or having it done to you, or
roaches or flies or a
broken hook on a
screen, or out of gas
or too much gas,
the sink’s stopped-up, the landlord’s drunk,
the president doesn’t care and the governor’s
light switch broken, mattress like a
$105 for a tune-up, carburetor and fuel pump at
sears roebuck;
and the phone bill’s up and the market’s
and the toilet chain is
and the light has burned out -
the hall light, the front light, the back light,
the inner light; it’s
darker than hell
and twice as
then there’s always crabs and ingrown toenails
and people who insist they’re
your friends;
there’s always that and worse;
leaky faucet, christ and christmas;
blue salami, 9 day rains,
50 cent avocados
and purple

or making it
as a waitress at norm’s on the split shift,
or as an emptier of
or as a carwash or a busboy
or a stealer of old lady’s purses
leaving them screaming on the sidewalks
with broken arms at the age of 80.

2 red lights in your rear view mirror
and blood in your
toothache, and $979 for a bridge
$300 for a gold
and china and russia and america, and
long hair and short hair and no
hair, and beards and no
faces, and plenty of zigzag but no
pot, except maybe one to piss in
and the other one around your

with each broken shoelace
out of one hundred broken shoelaces,
one man, one woman, one
enters a

so be careful
when you
bend over.”



Next up, Bukowski recites his poem, “Style,” an abstraction that he quite rightly describes as “the answer to everything.” And in a verse sure to please the whole of the Tumblr community, Bukowski gives props to cats and their boundless chic.

“Style is the answer to everything.
A fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous thing.
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without style.
To do a dangerous thing with style, is what I call art.
Bullfighting can be an art.
Boxing can be an art.
Loving can be an art.
Opening a can of sardines can be an art.
Not many have style.
Not many can keep style.
I have seen dogs with more style than men.
Although not many dogs have style.
Cats have it with abundance.

When Hemingway put his brains to the wall with a shotgun, that was style.
For sometimes people give you style.
Joan of Arc had style.
John the Baptist.
García Lorca.
I have met men in jail with style.
I have met more men in jail with style than men out of jail.
Style is a difference, a way of doing, a way of being done.
Six herons standing quietly in a pool of water, or you, walking
out of the bathroom without seeing me.”



Finally, savor this classic interview, pulled straight from Voyagers' 90s archives. An inebriated (duh) Bukowski drops more buzzwords than Charlie Sheen as he noodles, among others things, beat poets fapping off in bed, and the sense of sadness that comes with flushing away a good, hot beer shit...

To get more from Charles Bukowski, click here. And hey, thanks as always for tuning into LA Music Blog, BitCandy. We hope you enjoyed today's literary twist!


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