What do Bukowski and Madonna have in common?


They share the same birthday, which was yesterday. Aside from their mutual admiration of Sean Penn, it’s probably the only thread you can draw between them.

I’ve been reading and collecting Bukowski rarities for a long, long time. I don’t know why that guy’s stuff gets under my skin the way it does. My life doesn’t parallel his in any way. I’m not much of a drinker. He would have disapproved of the way I’ve thrown my life away on office work. But we both had, shall we say, less than perfect fathers. So there’s that to consider.

Bukowski taught me that you don’t need a college degree in order to be well-read and literary. Until he revealed that to me, I wasted a lot of time feeling bad about myself.

Instead of a poem, which is what I was originally going to post, here are some of his words of wisdom. He was a pretty good prose writer. He would have been 90 years old yesterday. His stuff means a lot to me.

This is very important — to take leisure time. Pace is the essence. Without stopping entirely and doing nothing at all for great periods, you’re gonna lose everything. Whether you’re an actor, anything, a housewife … there has to be great pauses between highs, where you do nothing at all. You just lay on a bed and stare at the ceiling.

The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn’t interest you. This situation so repelled me that I was driven to drink, starvation, and mad females, simply as an alternative.

15 thoughts on “What do Bukowski and Madonna have in common?

  1. You know the funny thing is that i had alot of the same views on the universe as Hank did before i ever even knew who he was and though i had a great father my life parrelled his in the fact that i spent much time hiding in libraries, being broke, working shit soul sucking jobs (though that could be any job really) and living in roominghouses and shit apts., in fact i discovered him while i was living in a roominghouse and i think that’s posted somewhere on the lounge, How I Learned to Read i think it’s called, i spent some days dodging punches from women, had one chase me with a hammer, one threw an empty fifth at my head, can’t say it hasn’t been interesting and even though as i stated i had to kill my father cuz he was such an influence on me in my 20’s, i still love the miserable old bastard. cheers.

  2. wonderful post/wonderful quotes. you see the thing is, poets and writers can do that. Prophets too. It’s the essence of their being, no? they know the value of space, of leisure, of staring like cows (see quote on my blog sidebar). Bukowski is a radical as compared to most of us who slog through the 9-5. I suppose I spent a good part of my life trying to combine the two, time to think and write vs. the need to earn money and raise a child. I am not sure I was successful (whatever that might mean) at either. Happy Birthday to Charles and Madonna. PS I am sure you saw that great movie about his life, forget the title now. wow.

  3. “You just lay on a bed and stare at the ceiling.” So it’s Ramadaan right now. Which means that most Muslims are fasting and trying to be all well behaved. And although we’re already only 6 (?) days into it, I’m going stir crazy. I can’t relax for an extended period of time. Would love nothing more than to start training for a marathon.

  4. Kono: Because I didn’t spend any time in a university, I met a LOT of people who lived in the world Bukowski described. My brother dated a stripper who, in a fit of rage, kicked a crack in his windshield with her stiletto heel. You don’t meet interesting people like that in sororities.Jo: It’d be great if you could sustain this life you’re leading. Go back to Oz, I’d say.Suki: There are TWO movies made from Bukowski books; Barfly with Micky Rourke and Faye Dunaway, and Factotum with Matt Dillon and Lily Taylor. Factotum is the better of the two by far. It’s a pretty good read, to boot!Sid: Without realizing it, Bukowski is describing meditation. The ability to just sit in space and relax isn’t as easy as it sounds, as you are finding out.

  5. Have you seen the documentary? i think it’s called Born Into This, brilliant stuff, might be what Suki is referring to. Oh Strippers, a world unto their own, i used to live a half block from two of the dirtiest strip joints in Pittsburgh, i was on a first name/ real name basis with most of them, ever read Stripper Lessons by John O’Brien?, guy who wrote Leaving Las Vegas.

  6. “This is very important – to take leisure time.”See, I was right all along, I’m NOT being lazy! :¬)Seriously though, there was a time when I was working shift full time AND doing the music, for quite a long time. Not only did I hate the shift-work, but I was beginning to hate the music too. I think I’ve got the balance nearly right now, I only work in music! :¬) (That’s why I’m poor!)

  7. so you need to get out of a cube, else be “driven to drink, starvation, and mad females”i am about to enter a new office space. cubes. 7′ high walls, thankfully, so the “prairie dog” action will be limited..

  8. I only heard of Charles Bukowski recently, when Savannah posted his poem “so you want to be a writer” on her blog. The poem hooked me so comprehensively I wrote a (rubbish) essay on it. I had never spontaneously written an essay before! Thanks for the quotations, they’re great and feel so right. Doing nothing is one of my favourite things, though I don’t get the chance much these days, which is driving me nuts.

  9. Kono: Seen the documentary? I own a copy with all the extras. It’s a psychosis. Did you know that John O’Brien committed suicide? Actually, I though Leaving LV was his only book.Map: I don’t know how I got trapped into this lifestyle, but trapped I am. I make the best of it, though.Pat: No shame! His renown and popularity is fairly recent. Daisy: Cubes are nice. They give you the illusion of privacy. Have you ever worked in an open floor plan? It’s hard to check the baseball scores.ES: That’s one of my favorite Bukowski poems. He hits it out of the park more often than pretty much anyone else.

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