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Church of Bukowski

By       Message James Armstrong II     Permalink
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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to None 2/11/13

Lately, the spirit of Charles Bukowksi guides me through my journey as a writer. His words are so apt, so on-point, that I had to write something in his honor. I had to let others out there who may not know who he is... others like me. People who live on the street. The characters are all out there. The story is all out there. The dialogue, though... that's me. That's in MY head. But all the rest, Bukowski shows me it's okay. And it's SOURCE!


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Good afternoon. It's Sunday. Welcome to the Church of Bukowski.

I am going to be posting some quotes from Charles Bukowksi's novel, "Hollywood." I have decided to dedicate an entire article to him because I believe he has been guiding me and my writing lately. When I was reading Hunter, he was guiding me. And since Hank Chinanski seems to be the only character than can bump Hunter S. Thompson and all his shenanigans, I figured he deserved a spotlight.

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In the book Hollywood Henry Chinanski is pestered to write a screenplay for some small-time Hollywood Producers. If it were up to Chinanski, he would rather be at the track, trading cold hard cash for "useless cardboard," as he puts it. He would rather not be hobnobbing with Hollywood's most Insecure Actors, Directors and Producers. Henry Chinanski would rather be rubbing dirty-filthy elbows with bar flies at his local dive-bar-hotel. So there are nice quotes and monologues going on in Chinanski's sordid drama, where the sh*t that goes down behind the scenes is more dramatic than the actual film trying to be produced.

Anyway, enough of that... time to meet Mr. Chinanski and his beautifully observant voice. This first quote I liked because it told me, instantly, to never forget where you come from. I have done that in the past. And that philosophy landed me right back to the end of the line. "Success" is relative, remember that. What others may deem a success may not be so in your eyes. Context is everything; the beholder of that context is the only thing that matters.

The first quote comes as, after weeks of shooting with regular bar flies who were now "going Hollywood," of sorts, Bukowski laments of the good old days.

"Then everybody just walked off and Sarah and I walked into the bar. The regular bar flies were there. They were movie stars now and developed a certain dignity. They became quieter, as if thinking about great things. I liked them better the old way."

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-Charles Bukowski (as 'Henry Chinanski' in 'Hollywood)

The next quote is beautiful because his analogy is apt; it is real. His pointing to being alone and not part of the group, I get that. And analogizing situations helps the writer explain it so he or she can explain it to his or her audience. It is hard to relay a message if you do not have the ability to put it down in the correct wording. I was going to write "verbiage," but Bukowski reminds me of the "simplicity" of life.

"There are certain characteristic individuals at every racetrack everywhere, every day. I was probably viewed as one of those characters and I didn't like that. I would have preferred to be invisible. I don't care to hold council with the other players. I don't want to discuss horses with them. I don't view the other players with any kind of camaraderie at all. Actually, we are playing against each other. The track never has a losing day. The track takes its cut, the stakes take its cu t, and the cut keeps getting bigger, which means for the player to win consistently he or she must have a decided betting edge, a superior method, a logical insight. The average player plays daily doubles, exactas, triples, pick sixes, or pick nines. They end up with handfuls of useless cardboard. They bet win, they bet place, they bet show. But there is only one bet, and that bet is to win. It takes the pressure off. Simplicity is always the secret to a profound truth, to doing things, to writing, to painting. Life is profound in its simplicity. I think that the racetrack keeps me aware of this."

-Charles Bukowski (as 'Henry Chinanski' in 'Hollywood')

This next quote reminds me of the 1st amendment. It reminds me that some people are going to be offended, but as Hank reminded all of us earlier in this book, "People who watch movies get offended. People who read books want and like to get offended." It reminds me that if we are too careful we will become automatons... oh, wait.

"Having broken some cathedral windows in my time, the magazines sensed I was something or somebody they should bait, somebody to get blathering stupid drink, somebody who could be persuaded to say something stupidly useable. And they got it one stupid night. I said something negative about an actor that I really liked as a person and as an actor. It was a small thing, it described only a small segment of this person. But like his wife told me on the telephone, 'It may have been true but you didn't have to say it.' She was right but in another way she was wrong. We should be free to speak freely especially when we are asked a direct question. But there is a mater of tact. Then there is a matter of too much tact."

-Charles Bukowksi (as 'Henry Chinanski' in 'Hollywood')

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The next quote followed the previous quote. I isolated it because I live by this motto. If we start concerning ourselves with who gets offended, every book would be a cooking book, maybe. It is also what drives me. When people "hate" on me, it charges my batteries; you are helping me, thanks.

"Hell, I had been attacked continually over the years but had some how found this to be invigorating. I never believed my critics to be anything but a**holes. If the world exists until the next century, I will still be there and the old critics will be dead and forgotten only to be replaced by new critics, new a**holes."

-Charles Bukowksi (as 'Henry Chinanski' in 'Hollywood')

Metaphor, analogy, euphemism... beautiful. It is why we write. It is how we write.

The next quote also represents how I feel about my working-class friends. My message is hammering that area of our society right now, but that is only because at this point in our history we need to be doing something other than struggling at warp speed... or, "Ludicrous Speed, Colonel Sanders!?" Sorry. Writers need you holding that pattern. And when we do work with you guys you don't like us doing it so stop bitching about us not doing it because you don't want us around you anyway because we do not take orders well from morons -- not you, the "boss." And to the boss: LIGHTEN THE f*ck UP.

You are beautiful human beings being exploited by douche bags, and I love you all.

"I liked to watch the fights. Somehow it reminded me of writing. You needed the same thing, talent, guts and condition. Only the condition was mental, spiritual. You were never a writer. You had to become a writer each time you set down in front of the machine. What was hard sometimes was finding that chair and sitting in it. Like everybody else in the world, for you things got in the way: small troubles, big troubles, continuous slammings and bangings. You had to be in condition to endure what was trying to kill you. That's the message I got from watching the fights, or the jocks kept overcoming bad luck, spills on the track, of the track. I wrote about life, haha. But what really astonished me was the immense courage of some people living that life. They kept me going."

-Charles Bukowksi (as 'Henry Chinanski' in 'Hollywood')

And finally, some dialogue. I like this for a few reasons. For one, I am writing another piece right now and it correlates. It's about privilege over poverty. It's about Truth versus Lie. It's about Life; beautiful Life.

Henry Chinanski interviews a local journalist about his debut as a screenwriter, as opposed to books and poems. And no, I didn't write that incorrectly. Chinanski is in full control of this interview and interview er.

"'Thank you, Mr. Chinanski, for speaking to us . . .'

'Sure . . .'

Then Jon Pinchot was there. 'Hello, Sarah, hello, Hank . . .

Follow me . . .'

There was a small group with cassette recorders. Some flashbulbs went off. I didn't know who they were. They began asking questions.

'Do you think drinking should be glorified?'

'No more than anything else . . .'

'Isn't drinking a disease?'

'Breathing is a disease.'

'Don't you find drunks obnoxious?'

'Yes, most of them are. So are most teetotalers.'

'But who would be interested in the life of a drunk?'

'Anther drunk.'

'Do you consider heavy drinking to be socially acceptable?'

'In Beverly Hills, yes. On skid row, no.'

'Have you "gone Hollywood"?'

'I don't think so.'

'Why did you write this movie?'

'When I write something I never think about why.'"

-Charles Bukowksi (as 'Henry Chinanski' in 'Hollywood')

There it is. All the quotes I wanted in this piece. I could have put more; a lot more. But those were sufficient enough. I bombard you guys with enough sh*t anyway.

I hope you all enjoyed what you read. I hope other artists read this and get something from it. I know I did.

This concludes a sermon from the Church of Bukowski.

-James Richard Armstrong II


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I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).
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