Well, this is funny.
Clicked link in a guardian article. Led to a bukowski blog, which featured a rude commenter, His profile led to website. Led to @mjpinLA.
— Patrick Delaney (@pxdelaney) April 30, 2013
Dear @mjpinLA, as this moment's representative of all internet commenters, please be less of a dick.
— Patrick Delaney (@pxdelaney) April 30, 2013
Maybe funnier than his super-sleuthing is the fact that I didn’t even notice it for seven months. How sad to plot out such a devastating zing and have it met with silence. Nothing but Twitter crickets.
Imagine a life where you don’t like a random Internet comment somewhere, so you “track down” the commenter and use your pasty little manicured thumbs to type out not one, but two Tweets on your little iPhone. Imagine giggling at how clever and naughty you are, and how you sure taught that rude commenter a lesson.
It’s almost as pathetic as writing a blog post about it.
I retired my HTC Android space phone after using it for a year. It did a lot of cool things. A lot of cool, unnecessary things. And it cost a lot of money. Money that was ultimately wasted because I never used any of those cool, unnecessary things.
I mean, not never. I did use two apps quite a bit. The Chase bank app for depositing checks, and the Fresh and Easy coupon app (because that’s where 99% of our food comes from). So the question was, is it worth a thousand dollars a year to deposit a check once a month and to avoid printing out some coupons?
It was a rhetorical question, since only an idiot would pay a thousand dollars a year for those two services. But that is, more or less, what I was doing.
Okay, so there were more than two apps on the phone. There were dozens. I could read my email, there was a Facebook application I couldn’t remove (I don’t use Facebook), I could Tweet (I do that) – in fact, I could Tweet from my own account and three different work accounts. I could write a god damned blog post for four different blogs, all from apps on the phone.
But I didn’t. Because who would want to write a blog post on a telephone touch screen? Again, rhetorical. The fact was I didn’t like doing anything on the touch screen. Typing was ridiculously slow and frustrating, so even writing and sending a text message or one of my stunningly genius Tweets was nothing short of torture.
I get it, you kids type with your thumbs. Good for you. You also listen to shitty music and dress funny, so it is not necessarily my life’s ambition to be more like you.
If I have a life’s ambition at this point, it’s to be less connected.
I was a very early adopter of the world wide web (that’s what we called it back then, back when FTW meant something quite different than it does now), and I’ve been on it, around it, underneath it and making a living from it ever since. Consequently, if I’m awake, I’m usually not more than ten feet from a computer. So the last thing I need – or want – is a computer in my pocket.
I didn’t even want a cell phone, really. But if you think about he miracle that is the cell phone, you’d be a fool not to have one. If only for emergencies or to have in your car. The things are truly revolutionary. For someone who grew up (and lived well into their 40s) without one, a basic cell phone is nothing short of magic.
When I was in my 20s I spent a lot of time as a touring musician rolling around America (and other countries) in vans, looking for venues and people, and the only way to find them or connect with them was through pay phones. Which meant an eternal scrounge for dimes and quarters or working one improbable (and illegal) scheme or another, all to make simple telephone calls. Finding and using pay phones occupied more of our time than you can possibly imagine.
If we had been able to have a phone in our pocket – one that could call anywhere in the country without long distance charges - we could have ruled the fucking world. And I’m just talking about using the phone, never mind GPS, MySpace, Twitter, ad nauseam. Though we would have exploited those too, make no mistake.
But the only time I’m on the road now is when I’m driving somewhere in the Honda. So all I need is a phone for the one or two calls I make every month, or to have on me when some idiot in a Range Rover runs me off the road and I find myself upside down in a drainage ditch.
So I bought a $13 Samsung flip phone from Virgin Mobile. A chunky little flipper, you might call it. Very unstylish. Very 2006. Eminently and endlessly mockable.
Though I wouldn’t be surprised if some hairy-chinned hipsters carry around the same phone in an attempt to demonstrate their deep and abiding disdain for modern technology, while they keep an iPhone hidden next to their iWallet in the iPocket of their skinny iJeans.
I have another long post here that I have been waiting to publish. It’s called, The senseless, tragic rape of Charles Bukowski’s ghost; John Martin speaks. It was meant to be the final part of the series (which was never meant to be a series in the first place) but I can’t bring myself to post it, so I think I’m going to mothball the thing.
It quotes extensively from an email correspondence Martin had with a Bukowski scholar, and that correspondence says about what you would expect it to say. A contradictory, “Hey, it was my job to edit the work,” in the same breath as, “I didn’t edit the work, Bukowski did.” And he caps it all off with a dismissive, “It’s none of your god damned business anyway.”
Okay, I’m paraphrasing. But that is the gist of it.
As I see it there’s nothing to be gained by continuing with the posts, so that’s that. It frustrates and saddens me to think about and write about the situation. As it does to see that while a lot of people care about the issue, and are shocked to learn what has happened, another group continues to trivialize the problem, or deny anything bad has happened.
But something bad has happened. Half of the poetry that’s still in print under the name of one of the 20th century’s most influential poets has been altered and degraded. By someone. As far as I’m concerned, that is an undeniable fact.
You can hem and haw and go search for some sort of academic proof, but anyone with one good eye and half a soul can see it on the page. I’ve done enough comparisons, I can’t do any more. I can’t do any more because they are depressing. Seeing the gutting and destruction of the work makes me angry, and it should make you angry.
Or maybe you shouldn’t care. Either way, the world keeps spinning, right? I’ve said my piece, made my point and now I’ll just do a little soft shoe off into the sunset. Soft shoe? Mothball? Is anyone under 100 years old going to understand any of this?
No one cares about poetry anyway, and we’re here on the Internet, an Internet that seems itself to be overwhelming evidence that people no longer care about the truth of a thing. Which is one of the reasons the academics disparage and dismiss anything that springs forth from its horrible, unverifiable, non-footnoted depths. I can’t blame them, but it smacks a bit of throwing the baby out with the bathwater (in keeping with the antiquated references).
I would wrap this up by saying it’s a beautiful day here in Los Angeles, but you already knew that. It’s always a beautiful day here. Everyone is happy and nothing bad ever happens. It’s really quite amazing, this paradise.
But for Christ’s sake, don’t move here. Really. Stay wherever you are. They need you there (which is a polite way of saying we don’t need you here).
Now carry on. There’s work to be done.
The article, The senseless, tragic rape of Charles Bukowski’s ghost by John Martin’s Black Sparrow Press tells the story (read that first if you haven’t already), but for the curious there is an interesting bit of back-story.
In the 1990s I ran an artists/writers/photography site called smog.net, and it had a Bukowski section. The primary tool on the site was a works database. A pretty comprehensive resource, and a valuable tool for anyone who was researching, or simply curious about, Bukowski’s mountain of work.
The database referenced manuscripts, taken from over a thousand manuscript images I had access to. Someone said, “Hey, you reference these manuscripts, how about you let us see ‘em, eh?” which was a reasonable request. So I posted a few hundred manuscript images, and everyone said, “Hooray!”
Well, almost everyone.
John Martin contacted me and demanded that I remove the manuscripts from the site. We went back and forth on the issue for some time, my argument being that the manuscripts were a valuable research tool. Eventually he said that he felt that the manuscripts were “works in progress,” and that “Bukowski wouldn’t have wanted them made public.”
I couldn’t argue with that, so I removed public access to them.
But as time went on and people continued to compare the available manuscripts to the published work it became quite clear that they were not works in progress. Most publications printed the poems verbatim from the manuscripts (as did Black Sparrow Press when Bukowski was alive – and that is the main point that I hope to make here).
Wormwood Review, for example, published more than 400 Bukowski poems, and when you compare them to the manuscripts, there are very few changes.
The conclusion has to be that Bukowski sent them out expecting that what was in the manuscript would be what wound up in print. He couldn’t have any other expectation, since that is almost always what happened.
And that brings us to what I believe was Martin’s real reason for wanting the manuscripts to disappear; he didn’t want people comparing them to the posthumous books. Because when they did, they couldn’t help but come to the same conclusion that many of us have. That being, after Bukowski’s death, someone at Black Sparrow began making significant, damaging changes to Bukowski’s work.
Clearly a large number of manuscripts being made public is the only way a significant number of people can make the connection and realize what has been done in the posthumous books. If they weren’t publicly available, only a tiny number of Bukowski researchers (and by tiny I mean one or two) could ever connect the dots. And if they chose not to mention it or make a fuss over it, the gutting of the work would remain a secret.
To illustrate that point, almost all of the poem manuscript images that I had came from one seller on eBay, Scott Harrison. In 2011 he wrote to me, “For years John Dulaghan (the film maker that did Born Into This), and I have complained about Martin tampering with poems…” So they discuss the “tampering” among themselves, privately, but no one who has any sort of acquaintance with Martin will say anything about it publicly. Everyone seems to be waiting for “someone else” to say something.
Which is why the alteration of the work remained virtually unknown for a long time. But secrets are hard to keep now that the Internet is a pervasive part of people’s lives (ask Scientology). So it wasn’t a secret that could be kept forever. Perhaps Martin thought it was a secret that could be kept indefinitely, and he wouldn’t have to answer questions about it. Perhaps he didn’t know about it. Only he can answer that question.
Personally, I don’t have any questions for Martin. As I said in the first article, the “why” isn’t important. What’s important is that the issue is out in the open so people can read the posthumous work knowing that it has been defanged, and worse, made pedestrian by the editor. Either directly or through neglect.
If the fact becomes widely known, maybe one day we will get definitive editions of Bukowski’s posthumously published work. It seems unlikely at this point, but stranger things have happened.
In the meantime, you may have to do some digging to find authentic Bukowski. But if you take the time to dig, your efforts will be rewarded with a body of work that disrupted the status quo and changed the course of modern poetry forever.
Someone was talking about paper cutters today, and it brought back some unpleasant memories. For most of my life I worked at jobs that were dirty, difficult and dangerous.
They started when I was 17 years old. I was a printer, and the presses were constantly trying to chew up and spit out my fingers, and the inks and solvents seeped into me like the casual, everyday poisons that they were.
Over in the bindery the machines were even worse. 32 inch long guillotine cutters, like 20 pound razor blades, ripping through four inch stacks of paper. Not only did I cut with them, I had to take the blades out of the cutters and change them when they lost their edge. If you were unfortunate enough to drop one of those, it would slice off your entire foot as clean as a god damned space movie laser beam before you could say, “Oh shit…”
Ancient, rusty one ton iron clamshell letterpresses used for die cutting, eight foot long folding machines, scoring machines, collating machines, all of them nothing but noise, filth, and more noise.
I managed to save all of my fingers, but sacrificed my arms and my back and every other living bit of me moving the tons of paper from this machine to that one and back again. I used everything but my brain.
When I wasn’t working in the printing trade (which has now all but disappeared) I was painting houses or doing demolition or surviving somehow without a job of any kind. For a few years I even made a living (more or less) in a band. I never needed much, I never expected much and I never got much.
When I came to Los Angeles in 1984 I used to walk around like some cardboard suitcase Midwestern yokel fresh off the Greyhound, wondering how the hell some of these people got their hands on so much money. The annual wages from any one of my jobs wouldn’t have paid the insurance on their cars.
I had no education, no connections. I certainly had no hope of ever doing anything other than the work I’d always done. I had no “in” to any other world. They were way beyond my reach.
There was no way I would ever have any of what those guys had, and for the most part, it didn’t bother me. I didn’t really want what they had, and I certainly didn’t want to do whatever it was they had to do to get it.
Every knucklehead with a college education knew how to get those things, but I had avoided college (and as much high school as I could). It would be many years before I learned the magic and the lie of the college degree. That while it opens doors, it doesn’t make you smart. In fact, it doesn’t really matter if you know anything. You can be dumber than an empty can of Silly String, but if you have that degree, someone will hire you, and they will pay you a decent salary.
Okay, maybe not so much these days, but in the 70s, 80s and 90s a degree was like a paved golf cart path to the easy money fountain. But being a printer or a painter or an itinerant musician, that path was closed to me. And I figured that’s the way it always would be.
But I guess it’s better to be lucky than smart, because I managed to be in the right place at the right time and now I have a job that doesn’t endanger any of my limbs. All I have to do is hang around an office all day, talking to people and doing things with my brain and my wits and the tips of my fingers. I have a window office full of art and guitars, and one of those salaries that I could never comprehend.
And I got it all with nothing but a high school education.
So I guess that’s the point of this (and I’m glad there is a point, because I was wondering what it was myself): don’t ever give up. Because some new thing that you never imagined can be waiting for you right around the corner.
All you have to be is lucky.
And ready for anything.