Doesn’t it seem that, of all writers, Charles Bukowski deserves his own holiday? I mean, the man was like a pockmarked, binge-drinking, womanizing walking holiday.
A few years ago, with this in mind, I declared September 15th ‘Bukowski Day.’ I chose this date for two reasons: First, it’s the publication anniversary of my favorite book of his poems (Love is a Dog from Hell); and second, the celebration’s pointless joviality offsets the lingering cloud of depression left over from Patriot Day (or as it’s becoming more and more: National Platitude Day).
So what’s a good way to celebrate Bukowski Day? The most obvious answer to that question is to drink beer: “rivers and seas of beer/ beer beer beer/ the radio singing love songs/ as the phone remains silent/ and the walls stand/ straight up and down/ and beer is all there is.” And after you’ve gorged yourself on beer, find some charming spot to vomit in public. (In addition to being a prodigious poet, Buk was also a prodigious public puker.)
But to be honest, I can’t really recommend this kind of behavior. But isn’t that what makes reading Bukowski so much fun? You can’t really recommend any of his behavior!
So keeping this in mind, here are a few celebratory Bukowski Day suggestions:
If someone you know owns a piano, go over to their house and play it “drunk/like a percussion instrument/ until the fingers begin to bleed a bit.” (They’ll love that!)
If you live by a racetrack and have a little extra scratch, go spend the day gambling. And if you win, promptly run to the bathroom and drop your winning ticket into a toilet full of feces. (C’mon Buk, was this really poem-worthy?)
If you live in Boston, make a trip to Bukowski’s Bar. And hey, you won’t have to worry about parking: it’s conveniently located in a parking garage!
If you’re talking to a young writer, consider giving him (or her) incredibly shitty advice, like “get a large typewriter/ and as the footsteps go up and down/ outside your window/ hit that thing/ hit it hard” (only Bukowski would suggest that the harder you type, the better you write), or “don’t overexercise.” (anyone who has ever seen a photograph of Buk knows that this really wasn’t a problem for him), or “just drink more beer/ more and more beer.” (How did I know that he was going to suggest that?)
And if you’ve endured a history of bad relationships, super-hyper-fixate on the transformation from being “one more creature dizzy with love,” to accepting that your relationships were “better than the Watts riots,” to realizing that “love dries up… even faster than sperm,” to denouncing love as “a dog from hell,” to describing your current status as: “me, and that old woman: sorrow.”
And now that I’ve gotten these unsavory suggestions out of the way, here are three easy, tasteful ways to celebrate Bukowski Day:
1) Start the morning by listening to Modest Mouse’s song Bukowski.
2) Throughout the day, hold your own “Bukowski Beauty Pageant.” As he never tires of mentioning, Buk was a great lover of women; but let’s be honest here, they weren’t all “lookers.” (Hell, they didn’t even all have a neck!) So every year on Bukowski Day, I try to find the most haggard, batshitcraziest-looking female drunk and anoint her “Bukowski’s Babe of the Year.” I then store her image, in my memory, in the same format as the People of Walmart website.
3) End your day reading a couple of his poems. Some of my personal favorites from Love is a Dog from Hell are “the crunch,” “as crazy as I ever was,” and “alone with everybody,” which ends with the lines: “the city dumps fill/ the junkyards fill/ the madhouses fill/ the hospitals fill/ the graveyards fill/ nothing else fills.”