Remembering Bukowski with Harry Dean Stanton on Saturday
A parade of Hollywood stars who are fans of writer Charles Bukowski, led by Harry Dean Stanton, will pay tribute to the author at a celebration on Saturday. The free show, at the Grand Performances outdoor stage, begins at 8 p.m.
Bukowski, who died in 1994, was a celebrated writer of L.A.'s gritty side. A longtime post office employee, Bukowski was a hard drinker who lived on the edge. He wrote a column, "Notes of a Dirty Old Man," which was published by a handful of underground newspapers in the late 1960s. In 1969, at age 49, he quit his day job to write a book for Black Sparrow Press; that novel was "Post Office."
While not a bestseller, Bukowski was a favorite of the underground (and the French). He wrote six novels, including "Factotum" and "Ham on Rye," and dozens of poetry collections. Disinclined toward capitalization and with a fondness for raw language, he wrote poems like "i wanted to overthrow the government but all i brought down was somebody's wife" and "a 340 dollar horse and a hundred dollar whore."
Bukowski's work reached the mainstream after the 1987 release of the movie "Barfly," which starred Mickey Rourke as the Bukowski-like character Harry Chianski. It was set in dive bars and the seedy parts of Los Angeles.
Downtown L.A. has been cleaned up considerably since Bukowski's time, featuring cultural celebrations like Grand Performances. On Saturday, the reading series Tongue & Groove takes over the stage to present a tribute to Charles Bukowski.
Hollywood stars Harry Dean Stanton and Rebecca De Mornay headline the evening. Other readers include writer Dan Fante, whose father, John Fante, was an inspiration to, and rediscovered by, Charles Bukowski. Poets Jack Grapes, Kenneth Sonny Donato and Chiwan Choi, and writer Wendy Rainey will also read. Two writers who knew Bukowski, Joan Jobe Smith and Gerald Locklin, will also take the stage, so in addition to readings there may well be reminiscences.
Bukowski died at age 73 in 1994. His papers are now at the Huntington Library.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Left photo: Harry Dean Stanton in 2006. Credit: Robert Lachman / L.A. Times. Right photo: Charles Bukowski from the documentary film "Bukowski: Born Into This," released by Magnolia Pictures. Credit: Michael Montfort