Archives For December 2013

Dostoyevsky’s Heavenly Christmas Tree

For “electronic laser TV generations that don’t read Dostoyevsky” quoth Allen Ginsberg

Fyodor, Fedor, Feodor
Dostoevski, Dostoievsky, Dostoevskii, Dostoevsky, Dostoyevsky was a psychologist, pardon, novelist
His Christmas story is about a six-year-old boy, perhaps younger than six
The boy is in a great city
Alone with a sick mother
In a cold damp cellar
Starving
He touches his mother
So cold is she
Dead cold
It’s dark in the cellar
And the boy is haunted by barking from a ferocious dog
He ventures up to the unknown street

He recalls thousands of barking howling packs of dogs in his home town
In this unknown place, stone streets are frozen with snow
Steam hangs from the mouths of horses
A policeman turns to avoid him

Another street
This one lit by lights
And a glass window with a marvelous tree
Decorated with toys and apples and many lights
Pretty children dressed in best clothes play
And on a table yellow, red, and almond cakes
A lady hands him a kopek
But it rolls away
And he cries, poor wretched little, little boy
Another glass window
With dolls dressed in green and red
So real he laughs
A big wicked boy knocks him down
So he hides behind a wood stack
He warms up
Sleeps
And hears his mother sing

A soft voice calls, “Come to my Christmas tree”
A bright light!
Another tree, like he’s never seen
Bright
With boys and girls flying
They kiss him
His joy-filled mother laughs

This is the Christmas tree of Christ
For children frozen
Foundlings
Suffocated
Starved
Died of bad air
Angels and crying mothers
Flying, kissing, and happy children

“The Heavenly Christmas Tree” was written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1876.

A Gentle Creature

A gentle creature
A slender young woman, fifteen years and nine months
With very large eyes
An orphan who lives with two aunts, mean
They beat and treat her as a slave, and begrudge her daily bread
She has one option: marry a (two wives in the grave) fifty-year-old shopkeeper and mother his children . . .
She tries to get a job . . . but can’t
The pawnbroker proposes
He’s the lesser evil than the fat and watchful shopkeeper
She takes a long time to consider Mephistopheles introducing himself . . .
And marries him, she pawn, he broker (who quotes Goethe)
Pawnbroker is stern . . . and silent . . . and pours cold water upon her happiness
She stamps her foot at him
Aims a gun at his temple
And falls ill in winter
He pays for a doctor and a nurse
Winter passes
One sunny day, she sings
He kisses her feet . . . and she sobs
Plans of Boulogne to bathe in the sea
She thinks and smiles
Opens a window
Clutches icon of Madonna and Babe
And jumps
Nothing was crushed
Just a small spoon of blood
He claims to be only five minutes too late
So thin in her white coffin
“People are alone in the world.”

The short story “A Gentle Creature” was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1876.

New ‘Festival of the Beats’ for Ipswich

A new literary, art and music festival celebrating the Beat Generation is being launched in Ipswich next month.

The month-long “Festival of the Beats” will feature a series of fringe events at various locations in the build-up to the main festival weekend – from January 31 to February 2.

Poetry, spoken word, film, live music and art exhibitions will be held at the Town Hall to pay tribute to a literary movement which took off in 1950s America.

The Beat Generation quickly became a cultural phenomenon, in large part thanks to Allen Ginsberg, who wrote the epic poem “Howl”, Jack Kerouac, author of “On The Road” and William Burroughs, who stormed to fame with the novel “Naked Lunch”.

Festival organiser Paul Fisk, a local poet and artist, said: “This is a unique opportunity for the people of Ipswich and beyond to experience a taste of one of the most influential cultural eras of the past 60 years.

“People can also witness the influence it had on a group of young Ipswich writers and poets in the late 1960s,” he said. “From their hangouts such as The Orwell book shop, the Vaults, the Gondolier club to them following in true spirit of the original beats and taking to the road and writing, some of these guys will be returning for the festival to talk about their adventures on the road and their memories of a bohemian Ipswich.”

Festival of the Beats will bring together the words, music and art of the period through second-generation beat performers such as Michael Horovitz and new contemporary performers from the area such as Joe Runnacles.Other confirmed acts include Attila the stockbroker, Luke Wright, Henry Lawrence, Silbury Hill and the Horn Factory quartet.

Councillor Bryony Rudkin, Culture portfolio-holder at Ipswich Borough Council, added: “This is a unique festival and a great achievement by Paul. It will rekindle many memories oflocal people and open a fascinating world of alternative culture to new audiences.”

Paul is also calling for volunteers and sponsors to support the event: “We would appreciate any support to make this the best festival possible. We would love the people of Ipswich to embrace the different art forms and a sense of community.”

Anthony Wooding, managing partner with Kerseys Solicitors, which is supporting the festival, said: “This is an innovative and exciting art project, which we are proud to be involved in. It has been a rewarding experience and we would encourage other businesses to take part, too.”

 For more information on the festival or getting involved, contact Paul at Festivalofbeats@btinternet.com or 07858 738080 or visitwww.festivalofthebeats.comNew ‘Festival of the Beats’ for Ipswich

Propositioned By Ginsberg

August, 1968, Chicago. It was the Summer of long hair, and long hot nights. Small wonder America would soon be in flames, when all the South Side was sleeping on the beach by Lake Michigan. Like London in the Underground, during war. And there was war. Guerrilla fighting on the streets, from the top of city monuments. War against the war, war against the shadows on the walls after dropping acid. War against the staid, complacent, uptight. We were mobilized for action by SDS.  All the young were there, and we formed in lines in Grant Park and then as night fell, on Wabash Avenue against a line of police. The police put tape over their badge numbers; they couldn’t wait to charge; the sons of dark against the sons of light. The whole world was watching, we screamed, and they came. Vans were overturned, heads cracked in the melee. It was culture versus culture. It was Gettysburg.
I ran. I wasn’t a fighter, none of us were. We were musicians, poets, artists. My poetry was more than protest; it was my soul. I wanted it to outlive the flash of tonight and outdate the hippie kingdom. I went to the nearby Art Institute on Wednesday evenings  for signal flares, and carried the light home and poured it, privately, on a page.
There were tents in Lincoln Park, during the Convention. Organizers of the protest hosted  counter-culture events: poetry readings, guitar strumming on the grass. The night after the Charge of Wabash Avenue, I went to a reading. My poems weren’t ready to be seen, or heard. I stood in a throng of ourselves, certain of our cause, and hipness. Ignoring the buzz of chaos. A small, dark bearded man noticed me. Hey, he said. Hey, I said. He took my hand. No, man, I said. Loud. He was insulted. He was troubled, very unsure and disappeared into the mass. I went home.

White Nights

White nights
Young nights
Petersburg romantic lights
Ivanhoe and Norman knights
Rossini’s la-la lends delight
Two poor lovers . . . enter a third
Confess each other’s sorrowed souls
The loneliness of life
Illusions and dreams
Tears and despair
Grandmother pin those skirts so tight
Le notti bianche
Cinema Visconti
‘57 was the year
Marcello danced up in the air
Go
A moment of bliss
. . . for all of this

*
The short story “White Nights” was written by Fyodor Dostoevsky in 1848, and has been the inspiration for many films in many languages. (Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Burroughs all greatly admired and were influenced by Dostoevsky.)

The Rum Diary and the Youth of Hunter S. Thompson

One mustn’t forget, in looking at the works of Hunter S Thompson, to go back and visit his first book, which was ‘lost’ for decades until its eventual publication in 1998. This is different from Thompson’s other books in that it was a genuine attempt at a novel, with a plot and stories that didn’t necessarily happen to the author in real life, but were merely inspired by his surroundings. The book predates Gonzo and Thompson’s journalistic innovations, and comes from the period in his life when he was just another writer, trying to cut it working for a newspaper, and trying to write novels like his idols – Hemingway and Fitzgerald. Yet, even in those early days, Thompson was mapping out his future. According to David Hamilton’s memoir of his meeting with Thompson in South America, the young man was talking about journalists as participants and even actors, helping the events around them to unfold, rather than noting them as an outside.[1] Continue Reading…

Visions of Winter… Russia… Cody

Hot chocolate . . . delicious
Blustery deep freeze winds
Cut through cruel canyons of Manhattan
Past Dostoevsky Christmas angels
Huddled in icy doorway
Snowfall and heavenly whirls and waltzes
And bare souls and mystic mad Rasputin
Listening to Tchaikovsky in snowy swirls
O, Robert, where art thou Frost?
Are we in St. Petersburg, Russia?
The littlest Romanov
Tender Alexei lambevich
And four sister lilies pure as pearls
Hothouse saints with flowers and ribboned hair
Donned jewel encrusted bodices
Shots rang out
Bullets bounced
Regicide
Murder most foul
Bayonets and pistols
Shrouds of bed sheets
Ghastly secret Siberian grave
Black and filthy July deed
Will take all the mountains of Ural snow
To cover royal blood
O, Holy Martyrs
Holy Mother of all the Russias
Great Orthodoxy! Passion bearers! Peter and Paul!
Who could write this Macbethian tragedy?
And the intense frozen sun continues to shine
On winter blue coats
And cherries in the snow
O, Cody, brother of my youth
Found cold and by the tracks

Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Cody. (New York: Penguin Books, 1993).

Drunk and Disorderly: Charles Bukowski in Hollywood

by Chris Dickerson

 

Charles Bukowski never considered himself part of the Beat Generation; in fact, he frequently disparaged the idea. He wasn’t a joiner, he didn’t like drugs (except booze), and while the Beats haunted San Francisco or New York’s Greenwich Village, Bukowski clung proudly – often on wobbly drunken legs – to his hometown, Hollywood, California.

So Bukowski prowled Hollywood, its dive bars and run-down rooming houses, writing about it exclusively. And if we can accept that, say, Ernest Hemingway was the Clark Gable of American letters – handsome, dashing, muy macho, an outdoorsman and globe-trotter – then Bukowski was akin to Humphrey Bogart.

“His special knowledge was of the jungle of the city at night,” film historian Richard Schickel wrote of Bogart in his 1962 book, The Stars. “Which clubs the syndicate ran, which one-arm restaurants served good coffee, which hotels a whore could use, which streets were safe to walk upon after midnight.” Those words fit Bukowski like a comfortable old jacket. Hollywood, the dark underbelly of it, not the glittering bastion of the Entertainment Capital of the World, was his town.

Home for Bukowski was almost Baltimore; that’s where he and his father and mother landed from Andernach, Germany when little Heinrich was nearly three years old, in 1923. Baltimore had a strong German-speaking working class (it still has), but Henry the Elder, an American soldier who’d served in World War I and decided to stay on in Germany at war’s end, was born and raised in Pasadena. His parents still lived there, so he moved his family West, to what was then the sleepy, dusty village of Los Angeles. In the twenties, the place had more in common with the Mexican pueblos from which it sprang than the undulating, traffic-stuffed, neon-lighted metropolis it would become over the next three decades.

The family settled in at 2122 Longwood Avenue, in South Los Angeles. Mother and son proceeded to become Americanized: Katrina was known as Kate and the boy, Heinrich Karl, was thereafter called Henry Jr., or Hank (his middle name became Charles). It was also the scene of Bukowski’s horrific childhood, with regular beatings from his father meeting only indifference from his mother. The foundation for life as a drunken loner was laid early.

To make matters worse, when he was about 13, Bukowski’s face exploded with boils and severe acne that would leave scars, plaguing him all his life. The lonely and beaten boy was now something of a freak. The situation didn’t improve when he transferred from Susan Miller Dorsey High to Los Angeles High School in 1937, in the affluent confines of L.A.’s Hancock Park.

Hancock Park was (and is) where the rich and the beautiful of Los Angeles lived; Beverly Hills East, before Beverly Hills and Brentwood existed. Bukowski was neither beautiful – far from it – nor from a wealthy family. He craved the attention of girls, but was too painfully shy and self-aware to speak to anyone. He was a borderline average student, and though the school had a poetry club, he lacked the confidence to join it.

He had, by now, discovered books and writing, at the sprawling Los Angeles Public Library, downtown on 5th Street. He consumed the works of Hemingway and D.H. Lawrence, Fitzgerald and Dos Passos, and Sinclair Lewis, and the legendary Russian writers of the previous century. The ostracized teenager found company and solace among the greats.

“Words weren’t dull, words were things that could make your mind hum,” he’d write years later in his novel, Ham On Rye. “If you read them and let yourself feel the magic, you could live without pain, with hope, no matter what happened to you.”

From high school, Bukowski enrolled at Los Angeles City College on Vermont Avenue, thinking of maybe becoming a journalist. The school had then, as it does now, a thriving arts, drama, and English department, but Bukowski again managed to be an undistinguished student. He dropped out in 1941, unable to get a job as a cub reporter with any of L.A.’s several daily newspapers.

He returned to the only place that gave him safety and sanctuary, the public library. One day he plucked from the shelf a relatively new novel, Ask the Dust, by John Fante. He read the first few pages. Bukowski’s world was transformed.

Fante’s Ask the Dust tells the story of Arturo Bandini, a struggling young writer living in the down-at-heels Bunker Hill section of L.A. (not far from the library). Bukowski immediately identified with Bandini, deciding then and there to set his goal on becoming a writer.

Bukowski, was in fact so grateful to Fante, that years later when Black Sparrow Press was established exclusively to publish Bukowski’s novels and poetry, he’d only agree to the contract if Black Sparrow also reissued all of Fante’s work, long out of print.

Bukowski moved to the predominantly-Mexican neighborhood of Bunker Hill, into a crumbling stucco boarding house (just like Bandini). And, like Bandini, he pounded out short stories for the pulps and lower-level “literary” magazines, while working a series of menial jobs in factories, or in the train yards of nearby Union Station. He drank in the seedy bars and ate in the greasy spoon diners, his stories racking up rejection slips, one after another. None of them sold.

With America flung into the turmoil of World War II, Bukowski decided that what a young writer needed was experiences to write about. He left Bunker Hill by bus, heading off across the country; it was here, over the next years, that Bukowski established his legend, what he called his “lost years,” a “ten-year drunk,” of flophouses, whores, dead-end jobs, low-life bars, and drifting, yet all the while, writing, writing, writing.

As with most legends, the facts are somewhat different: yes, Bukowski made sojourns across the country, but unlike his self-created mythology of the “hobo poet,” he was seldom gone from Los Angeles for more than two months at a time; he was never homeless, never slept on the streets; he watched his money carefully, always maintaining a bank account; and when he did go home to L.A., it was to his parents’ house on Longwood Avenue.

None of that meant that he was getting along any better with his father, and he wouldn’t stick around for long. But something must have clicked: in 1944 he had his first professional sale, to Story magazine, a humorous little piece entitled “Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip.” The byline read, “Charles Bukowski,” because he didn’t want to use his first name (as it was the same as his hated father’s), and he didn’t think “Hank” sounded sophisticated.

The story didn’t launch his career as a writer; it was little more than a one-off. He was disappointed, but he kept writing, and from then, in print, he was Charles Bukowski.

Bukowski returned to Los Angeles in 1947 (he’d been willing to serve in the Army, but was declared 4-F for unspecified physical reasons), getting a job as a department store stock boy. He moved into MacArthur Park, another predominantly-Mexican neighborhood bordering downtown, spending his evenings drinking in the cheap Alvarado Street bars.

It was in one of these bars that he one night talked with Jane Cooney Baker, the woman ten years his senior who would become mistress, muse, drinking companion, and sparring partner. Bukowski would immortalise their combative booze-fuelled relationship in the novels Post Office and Factotum; in many poems, such as the ones collected in 1969’s The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over The Hills; and in the screenplay Bukowski created for Barfly, where she’s played by Faye Dunaway.

Bukowski and Baker lived in a succession of rooming houses around MacArthur Park, but their drunken fights were often so loud and violent that they were evicted time and again. They finally took up residence together in a tiny wood-frame house on North Westmoreland Avenue – and Bukowski went to work for the postal service.

Neither situation lasted. Bukowski suffered a severe haemorrhage. He was told by doctors that if he ever drank again, he’d die. He had to quit his post office job, and Jane left him. He was thirty-four years old.


He threw himself back into writing – and drinking, doctors be damned –submitting poems to a host of little magazines. With one, Harlequin, his poetry made a hit. Not only did Editor Barbara Frye agree to publish his work, she wrote him a long fan letter, telling Bukowski he was a great poet, as great as William Blake. Their correspondence became so “friendly” that Barbara eventually quit her job in Texas, moved to Los Angeles, and, in October 1955, became the first Mrs. Charles Bukowski. The couple moved into a house in Echo Park, smack between Downtown

Los Angeles and the bohemian, working class community of East Hollywood.

Barbara encouraged Bukowski’s writing, and prompted him to go back to Los Angeles City College, but nothing lasted – except the writing and drinking. Bukowski again dropped out of school, and after only fifteen months of marriage, he and Barbara divorced.

Bukowski was now in Hollywood, after living for years on its fringes, though not on the glamorous West Side, but in the blue collar confines of East Hollywood, an area of family-owned shops and liquor stores, old apartment buildings and neighborhood bars. East Hollywood was where he would spend most of the rest of his life, and, somewhat like Raymond Chandler, capture the time and place forever in his work.

He first found apartment 303 at 1623 North Mariposa Avenue, between Sunset and Hollywood Boulevard; a cold water flat with the communal shower upstairs, where the hallways with their ratty carpeting were lighted by an overhead fluorescent strip. He went back to work for the postal service, at the Terminal Annex downtown. He worked the nightshift, leaving his days free to write and to play the ponies at Hollywood Park Racetrack.

It wasn’t long before he took up again with Jane Cooney Baker, though by now, whatever sexual attraction they’d had for each other was gone. They were simply drinking buddies. But when she died in 1962, Bukowski was one of the few at her funeral. He described the scene in Post Office:

 

“There was the coffin. What had been Betty (her name in the novel) was in there. It was very hot. The sun came down in one yellow sheet. A fly circled around. Halfway through the funeral two guys in working clothes came carrying my wreath. The roses were dead, dead and dying in the heat, and they leaned the thing up against a near-by tree. Near the end of the service my wreath leaned forward and fell flat on its face.”

 

It was around this time, the early sixties, when Bukowski’s fortunes as a writer slowly began to shift. From his bug-ridden flat on Mariposa Avenue, still working nights for the postal service, he kept pounding away at his “typer,” classical music wafting through his little cell, a bottle of beer and a deck of smokes always at hand. He was suddenly getting published on a regular basis, his work appearing in cheap chapbooks or tiny literary magazines which paid next-to-nothing, if anything at all. Bukowski somehow became the bridge between the fading Beat Generation of the fifties, before the likes of poetic songwriters such as Bob Dylan or Lennon and McCartney became the new voices of poetry. Publishers Jon and Louise Webb included Bukowski in their high-octane literary magazine, The Outsider, alongside established writers like Allen Ginsberg, Henry Miller, William Burroughs and Robert Creely. Bukowski the loner was suddenly in heady company, finally getting noticed. Persistence, if nothing else, was paying off.

It was also in the early sixties that Bukowski met avant-garde poet Frances Smith. Their friendship flowered into an affair, with Frances becoming pregnant. Neither of them were happy about it; Frances was 41, and believed her child-bearing years were over. Bukowski offered to marry her, but she declined. Still, they moved in together to another ramshackle East Hollywood neighborhood, a one-bedroom bungalow at 5126 De Longpre Avenue. Bukowski’s only child, Marina, was born there in 1964. Frances soon moved out, taking Marina, but Bukowski kept his word and provided child support, seeing his daughter frequently.

But if it was yet another relationship down the hole, Buskowski’s literary ship was coming into port, all flags flying. He’d been writing a column, “Notes Of A Dirty Old Man,” for the underground L.A. magazine Open City. When the magazine folded, he moved the column to the underground weekly newspaper, the Los Angeles Free Press. The column became one of the paper’s most popular features. He was a journalist – of sorts – at last. His poetry continued to be regularly published, but he still wasn’t secure enough financially to quit the daily grind of the post office.

All that changed in the early seventies. John Martin, an independent (though by no means affluent) businessman, struck a deal with Bukowski: Martin would guarantee Bukowski $100 a month for life if Bukowski quit the post office and wrote full-time, giving Martin exclusive publishing rights to any of Bukowski’s future books. Done deal. Martin founded Black Sparrow Press, with Bukowski as its sole author. Black Sparrow published Bukowski’s collections of poetry (and later, reprints of John Fante’s books) and, in 1970, Bukowski’s first novel, Post Office.

To augment his $100/month from Black Sparrow, Bukowski accepted invitations to read his poems at small venues around Los Angeles. All that was fine and good, reading for fifteen, twenty, or maybe thirty people, until Beat legend Lawrence Ferlinghetti invited Bukowski to San Francisco for a solo poetry reading in 1972.

Filmmaker Taylor Hackford, then an aspiring young director, was in the midst of crafting a black and white documentary on Bukowski for the L.A. PBS outlet, KCET. Hackford decided to tag along up north and record the City Lights event.

As Hackford recalled in the 2003 documentary on Bukowski, Born Into This, they found themselves confronted by eight hundred rabid, noisy fans. Bukowski was a hit, and collected the princely sum of $400 for the hour-long reading.

Now free to write full-time, becoming a celebrity in the bohemian circles he claimed to dislike, Bukowski moved one more time in Hollywood, to an apartment at 5437 Carlton Way, smack on the demarcation line between East Hollywood and “Hollywood Proper,” the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue. It still wasn’t “Ritzy Hollywood,” by any means. Most of the movie studios had long ago folded their tents (though Paramount Studios was – and is – still going strong on nearby Santa Monica Boulevard). Bukowski’s neighbors were sex shops and low-life saloons like “The Study” on Western Avenue (still standing, if long out of business, until the building was levelled in early 2013), and liquor stores like the Pink Elephant, where he bought his beer, whiskey, and cigarettes. He’d wander as far as the Frolic Room, next to the Pantages Theater, near Vine Street (a neighborhood dive from which he was often 86ed; his portrait now hangs over the bar, an irony he might appreciate).

He kept his name and address listed in the phone book, so the girls who loved his poetry could find him, and they did, showing up in droves on his doorstep. Bukowski, now in his early fifties, ravenously made up for lost time.

And he wrote. In his second novel, Factotum, he solidified the character of “Hank Chinaski,” who – like Hemingway’s Nick Adams, or Kerouac’s Sal Paradise, or Fante’s Arturo Bandini – would be the alter ego for which he’d become famous. Other novels – Women and Hollywood – followed, along with the poetry collections. He used all the people he was meeting in his work, especially all the “girl friends” who peopled Women. John Martin at Black Sparrow Press saw his investment pay off, with the $100 he’d promised Bukowski blossoming into as much as $7000 a month, as more and more books sold.

Hollywood itself soon came calling, in all its glamour and glory, in the form of actors like Sean Penn, or the Irish musician Bono. Bono, in the documentary Born Into This, recalls that he loved the Beats because, being Irish, “you could eat the language.” But Bukowski was different. “Here was a guy,” Bono said, “who stripped the language down to the bone, down to the marrow of the bone. He was like, ‘I have no time for metaphor.’”

More documentaries chronicled Bukowski: The Ordinary Madness of Charles Bukowski in 1981, and Mirrored – The Charles Bukowski Tapes by Barbet Schroeder in 1987. Then movies: Tales of Ordinary Madness in 1983, featuring Ben Gazzara as Hank Chinaski, Barfly (directed by Schroeder) in 1987 with Mickey Rourke in the Chinaski role, and Factotum in 2005, starring Matt Dillon.

True to form, Bukowski claimed to be unimpressed by any of it. He savaged both Gazzara’s and Rourke’s portrayals (Bukowski would be dead for over a decade by the time Dillon came up to bat, but the odds are, he wouldn’t have liked him, either).

At first more popular in Europe than in the United States, Bukowski received speaking and reading engagements from France and Germany, capping it all with a notorious drunken appearance on Bernard Pivot’s über-intellectual talk show in Paris, from which Bukowski was unceremoniously evicted mid-interview.

By now, the late eighties-early nineties, it was all part and parcel of the party. Henry Charles Bukowski Jr., the tortured little boy, the shunned teenager with the horribly scarred face, the man who worked dozens of mind-numbing, back-breaking minimum-wage menial jobs for decades, but who never quit writing, was somehow now a well-to-do and famous author. He married again, a young and beautiful health food restaurateur, Linda Lee Beighle, and he made his last move, with her, to a spacious and comfortable home in San Pedro, California. He swapped his battered “typer” for a computer, his beer and whiskey for wine. He wrote his last novel, Pulp, a surreal private eye pastiche (maybe in revenge for all those now-gone pulp magazines which rejected him in his youth). It was set… where else?… in Hollywood.

Bukowski died of cancer in 1994, age seventy-three. On his gravestone at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes are two words: “Don’t Try.” Like most things about his legend, the words belie his actions; nobody ever tried harder; and finally made it…