To the young, impressionable, and inexperienced, Bukowski’s writings make alcoholism seem romantic and bumming around from one dead-end job to the next adventurous. They also suggest that men’s failures in relationships with women need not be attributed to any fault of their own—they’re merely victims of some cruel joke played by the gods. To his fault and credit, Bukowski ripped the keys to the literary kingdom from the hands of academics—and suddenly every misanthrope with a drinking problem and a pen thought he could become a great writer. But Bukowski had talent, guts, and ambition, and in between sips he channeled his hard-luck experiences into some of the most visceral, heartbreaking, hilarious, and brutally honest poetry and prose of the 20th century. On the anniversary of his death (he passed away on March 9, 1994, at the age of 73), the BPC gathers a dozen or so kindred spirits to honor the man who published over 45 books in his lifetime. Among those reading some of his work are John S. Hall, a quick-witted scribe and founder of the band King Missile (you know, “Detachable Penis”?); Danny Shot, who started the Beat publication Long Shot with Allen Ginsberg in 1982; and Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of the novel Roughhouse. Come prepared to laugh, cry, and puke; the drink special tonight is the “Pukowski”—a Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of whiskey.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 1, 2005