Charles Bukowski has been called the "Poet Laureate of Skid Row," "Bard of the Barroom and the Brothel," "A Dirty Old Man" and one of the finest writers of his generation. DVDs of "Barfly," the out-of-print film starring Mickey Rourke as his combative alter ego Hank Chinaski trade for big bucks on eBay and his books are among the most stolen from libraries. But the persona is so big, it's easy to lose track of the artist.
From August 15-19, Esotouric, the eclectic collective whose offbeat bus tours expose L.A.'s secret history, sets its sights on celebrating and revealing the real Bukowski during the late author's 87th birthday week. Bukday honors the prolific poet, novelist and screenwriter whose rough-hewn tales of boozing, wild women and rotten jobs never obscure the deep vein of hope that runs through his work. In one poem, he described this as a bluebird he kept caged, represented in the Bukbird, the festival logo by"Maakies" cartoonist Tony Millionaire, a pale blue version of his beloved alcoholic crow character.
The festival, with events downtown and in Hollywood, includes bus tours, book club gatherings, a pub crawl, Sunday brunch and an ice cream social featuring Bukowski-inspired flavors from avant-garde gelato master Tai Kim of Scoops.
German born, Bukowski spent most of his life in LA, working for the US Postal Service, as "Notes of a Dirty Old Man" columnist for the Free Press and writing the autobiographical "Barfly" screenplay. The city and its characters are everywhere in the work, so Bukday celebrates the artist within his city with visits to places that were important to him.
Included among these locations: the old apartment complex in East Hollywood where he wrote his highly regarded "Post Office" and had the relationships featured in his novel "Women." This building, like the John Fante "Ask the Dust" apartment seen on a previous Esotouric route, is boarded up and awaiting the wrecking ball, a sad testament to how L.A.'s literary landmarks are neglected.
For more on the endangered Bukowski apartment, including the Craigslist real estate ad selling it as a vacant lot for over a million dollars, see http://www.2or3things.org/delongpre For the condemned Fante apartment, see http://www.2or3things.org/826berendo
"Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski's L.A." is the newest offering from the Downtown News' "best tour" winner Esotouric, a guided bus tour to the writer's homes, favorite bars and bookshops, plus locations from"Barfly."
In two slightly different tours, a night tour on his August 16 birthday and a daytime tour on August 18, passengers will tour a downtown postal sorting facility like the one in "Post Office," visit Skid Row and discuss the area's history and see the Central Library reading room where Buk discovered his "God," L.A. novelist John Fante.
Bukday tour and event schedule (additional info at http://www.bukday.com):
Weds 8/15 7 pm-9 pm Nobody Reads in LA book club, Bukowski's "Post Office" (at Charlie O's bar in the Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013)
Thurs 8/16 7 pm-11:30 pm Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski's Los Angeles (special Bukday night tour on the author's birthday, departs from Charlie O's)
Fri 8/17, 9 pm-10 pm - Scoops ice cream social, sampling flavors inspired byBukowski (at Scoops, 712 North Heliotrope Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90029)
Sat 8/18 2 pm-7 pm Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski's Los Angeles (departs from Philippe the Original, 1001 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012)
Sat 8/18 9 pm-4 am Lazy Lush Club downtown dive bar pub crawl (departs Pete's, 4th and Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013)
Sun 8/19 noon-4 pm Fleur de Lethal presents Hair of the Dog (from Hell) Bukday Brunch at Royal Clayton's (at 1855 Industrial St., Los Angeles, CA90021, reservation number 213-622-0512)