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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/29/2004 Archived Entry: "Bukowski: Born into This"

Bukowski: Born into This
Directed by John Dullaghan.

Reviewed by Russell Smith

I recommend this movie. If for nothing else, it's camp value. The best parts of the movie show clips of the man, reading poetry and ripping a heckler a new one, guzzling hooch in grainy, nostalgic footage. This was at the beginning of the movie. It slowly descends into a crypt of schmalz that would make Bukowski, if he were alive, puke up a half gallon of bourbon in disgust. But let's get back to the good parts.

Did you know that Bukowski was married to a woman with no neck who he met in a lonely hearts ad? They wrote back and forth for a while and then they decided to get married, sight unseen. Granted, Bukowski was no Adonis, but the still photo of this unfortunate woman arm and arm with the Buk was worth the price of admission. It appears he sponged off her income and tormented her for two years before she threw in the towel and fled back to Ohio.

Meeting the mother of his daughter, a woman with copiously long white chin hair, was quite illuminating as well. Mother and daughter purport that Bukowski was a loving, if eccentric, father. From the daughter's reminiscences, it appears that Bukowski wasn't around very much. Probably a blessing. At any rate, we see a side of Bukowski that no one may have ever had a chance to see. It was really touching.

The nadir of this movie was reached when we learn of the conference call between Bono, Sean Penn and Bukowski. You see, Bono and Sean were hanging out at Bono's pad (read palace) in Dublin and they started quoting the great man at each other. What fun! But guess what! Sean Penn and Bukowski are close personal friends. Sean rings the old guy up and they just have a grand old time talking away. Sigh. I don't know about you, but you'd have to be made out of stone not to let that story make your heart go aflutter.

But I have a personal bone to pick with Bukowski's publisher, John Martin of Black Sparrow Press. He gushes about Bukowski's last wife, Linda. You see, according to Martin, Linda saved Bukowski's life by moving him out of "East Hollywood" and down to San Pedro, "which really has some nice parts to it, if you look around." Let me just say this. This movie shows the great man kick this wonderful woman off the end of a couch in the middle of an interview. He screams at her on the floor and covers her with abuse, without spilling a drop of his cocktail. What kind of woman, blonde, young, nubile in her low-cut peasant blouse, sticks around for that kind of shit? I'll tell you - a gold digger. The footage of her in a graceful middle-age, kneeling beside his grave made me want to puke up my bottled ice water. It must be so hard to live off the man's royalties.

Oh, and another thing, Mr. Martin, who did so much for Bukowski and knew the man better perhaps than anyone else, it was Hollywood that was the crucible for his best work and made you your best buck. I live here. I love it. I don't want to live anywhere else. What's this "East Hollywood" crap? I live in the heart of Hollywood. Hollywood is Hollywood. Why don't you come skulking around here some time, after dark, you might find yourself another writer worth publishing.

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