Writing these short pieces feels like being a newspaper columnist. Hell, that's ok.
Let me tell you a little story about my favorite newspaper column, back when times where interesting and gas was thirty cents a gallon. In 1967 or so I was dating a nurse named Penny who had an apartment near Macarthur Park in L.A. That's the place Jimmy Webb sang about: "someone left a cake out in the rain." Oh really, Jimmy? Someone left a lot of winos and junkies out in the rain too. They were lying there smoldering in the Los Angeles heat; below the windows of those old worn out apartment hotels. This was no country for young men or civilized women. I used to sit in the park all day and talk to the Indians and pigeons. Waiting for something. Waiting for Penny to come home with the grub, maybe. One day here comes a man with a bunch of newspapers under his arm and he hands me one. It's "Open City," and it contains a column called: "Notes of a Dirty Old Man," by one "Charles Bukowski." Now I doubt if there's ever been a column such as this - now or ever. This gent Bukowski wrote about working for the Post Office and drinking and trying to date women; every rank American male frustration in the book. The read was highly entertaining. Consider: Jonathan Swift meets Mark Twain and Henry Miller at Raymond Chandler's house; with a savage dose of Celine and Nathaniel West. It was drunken rant; like he was putting words in the mouth of a million American blue collar workers. A touch misogynistic. But, oh the humor! I saved all the columns in a box in my garage. Later Bukowski's publisher, through a long grapevine, found out I had the columns and Bukowski had burned all of his. Could Bukowski borrow my stash? Of course. And that started a correspondence with Buk that lasted thirty years or so. You can find all of that in a book titled "Tough Company" on Black Shark-Mystery Island Press. Well…I don’t know what the hell I'd think of Bukowski now. Never read him anymore. He told me once that: "Hemingway is better when you're young." Well old Buk's stuff was probably better when you're young too. But, hell, I wish somebody wrote columns like that now or had something passionate to say on the news or in a magazine. Political correctness has choked us down and hobbled our guts and forced Spaulding Gray to jump into the East River. He left a note to that effect. But Buk wrote one classic L.A. poem….
"Crucifix in a Death Hand."
"Yes, they begin out in the willows, I think.
The starch mountains begin out in the willows.
And keep right on going, without regard
For pumas or nectarines."
Somehow, he nailed it. I leave you with that.