Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't Try


Check out this cool story about this grave by clicking here:

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994): A friend of mine recently found himself in the bustling metropolis of San Pedro, California, the whimsically dumpy harbor area of Los Angeles, famous for not really a whole lot else as far as I know other than being where the Great American 20th Century Poet Charles Bukowski is buried, underneath a modest in-ground marker that reads “Don’t Try.” This was, of course, the advice Bukowski gave, while he was still alive, to poets, writers, and everyone else looking to become the type of person that makes a city famous for being buried in it. But in death, I think it was his advice to humanity in general, his final pearl of wisdom imparted to mankind. Don’t try, at anything. Just be. There’s a certain amount of disingenuousness inherent in this statement; after all, when Bukowski was still just a alcoholic mailman, sending hand-copied manuscripts to magazines and publishers, he was definitely trying. And you don’t write as many poems, novels, and screenplays as Bukowski did during his life without putting out some effort. But just like the more spiritual epitaphs usually found on the gravestones of the honest Christian men, Don’t Try is more of the goal, the life’s lesson learned. It’s the advice Bukowski would have given to himself, a fittingly narcissistic thought for a man who made a career out of relating his sexual exploits, drunken loutishness and otherwise self-serving behavior. He was like Thoreau with a taste for booze, choosing the slums of LA, instead of Walden Pond, as his personal purgatory, with women and barflys serving as his woodchucks, ants, and squirrels. And like Thoreau, he didn’t remain there forever; after the slums had served their purpose he moved on, eventually living, and eventually dying, in the comparatively upscale San Pedro, a white wine-sipping old timer. My friend went to the graveyard to pay his respects. The people there had no idea what he was talking about. They finally looked it up, gave him directions and sent him out there; no historical monument, no literature about the life and work of the late great Charles Bukowski. Just a plot number. He found the grave, there with all the other graves. There was nothing spectacular about it. It could have been the grave of anyone, and I guess it is, as far as most people are concerned. Except it says, right on there. Don’t Try.

So you want to be a writer
by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.


So, I have to think that Buk would appreciate this bit of drunken idiocy

Don't Try Bukowski; Try Bukkake

So I know you can't see it through the glare of the flash, but it says something amidst the mispelled scribbles. Who is going to make this bumper sticker?


Of course, it is disgusting, but can we not reward a play on words and the recognition of our most worthy poet?

Oh, you don't think he's culturally worthy?

I dare you to read this book and neglect his prowess!




* Post Office (1971)
* Factotum (1975)
* Women (1978)
* Ham On Rye (1982)
* Barfly (script) (1984)
* Hollywood (1989)
* Pulp (1994)


* It Catches My Heart in its Hands (1963)
* The Days run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills (1969)
* Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972)
* Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame (1974)
* Love is a Dog from Hell (1977)
* Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Until the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit (1979)
* The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1996)
* Betting on the Muse: Poems and Stories (1996)
* Bone Palace Ballet (1998)
* what matters most is how well you walk through the fire. (1999)
* Open All Night (2000)
* The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps (2001)
* Sifting the Madness for the Word, the Line, the Way (2003)
* The Flash of Lightning Behind The Mountain (2007)
* The People Look Like Flowers At Last (2007)
* The Pleasures of the Damned (2007)
* The Continual Condition (2009)

Short story collections

* Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wall (1960)
* Run With the Hunted (1962)
* Cold Dogs in the Courtyard (1965)
* Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts (1965)
* At Terror Street and Agony Way (1968)
* A Bukowski Sampler (1969)
* Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions, and General Tales of Ordinary Madness (1972)
* Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (1972)
* South of No North (1973)
* Hot Water Music (1983)
* Tales of Ordinary Madness (1983)
* The Most Beautiful Woman in Town (1983)
* All's Normal Here: A Charles Bukowski Primer (1985)
* Portions from a Wine-stained Notebook: Short Stories and Essays (2008)


* Notes of a Dirty Old Man (1969)
* Shakespeare Never Did This (1979); expanded (1995)
* The Bukowski/Purdy Letters (1983)
* Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters (1993)
* Living on Luck: Selected Letters, volume 2 (1995)
* The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship (1998)
* Reach for the Sun: Selected Letters, volume 3 (1999)
* Beerspit Night and Cursing: The Correspondense of Charles Bukowski and Sheri Martinelli (2001)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Our misery that afternoon, in which the smell of tears mixed with the scent of sun cream, was a reminder of the rigid, unforgiving logic to which moods appear to be subject, a logic that we ignore at our peril when we encounter a picture of a beautiful land and imagine that happiness must naturally accompany such magnificence."
Tower Grove Park pond reflection

"It is perhaps sad books that console us when we are sad, and to lonely service stations that we should drive when there is no one for us to hold or love."
from THE ART OF TRAVEL by Alain De Botton


“The sky is a buffoon’s attempt to conceal chance.”
Cassandra Stark Mele, “In Case of a Storm” 1995

To You, Cloudy Girl

Darkness and rain fall silently on rocks
where no brains understand.
Happiness is more than a mood, kid,
and a smile is less than bliss.
It’s a fa├žade like the sunshine
that only clears when vapor’s gone.

The moon exists when it’s hidden.
There is more to nature than weather.
We are fools to hang our consciousness on
such thin, categorical tethers.
No revelation is there—no unseen truths,
just a continuing spray of babble.
Just remember, now please, don’t despair.
Our spirits aren’t lost when no longer here.

If we wait, another mood will pass.
My lips eclipse will no longer persist
and my teeth will show like blue sky.
If you stop to consider this inevitability;
if you wait for it to happen;
if you listen and watch as the process unfolds;
then your patience will be more than
any bottle could ever hold.

You will see that your waiting can carry you further
than any flittering flight of a fit.

So please try to find a hole in
the wall of balled up sounds
that tell you all is in your mind,
that completely dismiss the soul.

The mind is only a means.
Science is but a key.
But to find the way to unblemished truth
we must wait indefinitely.
For if we rush past all the clues
towards an end for which we lust,
we’ll miss the meaning of every connection
as gods smile while we wait for the bus.

Brett Lars Underwood, 1994

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Music Circle Announces 51st Season


New Music Circle Announces 51st Season Lineup

Ryan Harris
New Music Circle

But, what if...?
ST. LOUIS, MO - September 2, 2009 - New Music Circle opens its 51st consecutive season of innovative arts presentations on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009 at the Mildred Bastian Theatre on the campus of Forest Park Community College. The concert starts at 7:30 pm, and features composer/performer James Hegarty's new work, eXscapement, showcasing solo pieces for piano, interactive robotic sound objects, and video projections. He will collaborate with his artist daughter, Anna on the project.

In addition to the opening concert on October 3, the organization has booked a full season of the finest new music talent from an international scope. Featured presentations include Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core (Oct. 9 - Sheldon Concert Hall), Rob Voisey's 60x60 Dance (Nov. 8 - MadArt Gallery), local electronic composer John Tamm-Buckle (Mar. 13 - Kranzberg Arts Center), and granular systhesis pioneer Curtis Roads (May 1 - Mildred Bastian Theatre) performing a new work FLICKER TONE PULSE with video artist Brian O'Reilly.

New Music Circle will also continue its CAMA program, now in its third season, by empowering five artists to produce new collaborative works utilizing local talent. The five CAMA artists for the 2009-10 season are Tom Hamilton, James Hegarty, Craig Hultgren, Kelsey LaPoint, and Van McElwee. They will help produce and present a variety of artistic adventures that blend new music, video, dance, and performance. Among the CAMA events, one in particular will feature a collaboration produced by Hegarty that blends the visual art and music of Zimbabwe Nkenya and Douglas Ewart. Ewart was a past president of the acclaimed AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), based in Chicago, IL. Nkenya, a multi-talented local improviser, has played and recorded throughout the United States.

A full listing of the season's events with detailed info can be found by downloading our newsletter at the following link: New Music Circular. Tickets to all New Music Circle concerts are $15 at the door, or $7 for students/starving artists. Season ticket memberships can be purchased for $80 (regular) and $40 (students/artists), and include admission to all 10 of NMC's presentations. For more info on tickets, please contact, or visit

Finally, in celebration of New Music Circle's 50th birthday - the 50th year since the 501(c)(3) was actually incorporated, NMC will host a birthday party at the Kerr Foundation Building on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009. For more details, please visit our website.

NMC logo
New Music Circle is a not for profit organization dedicated to presenting a variety of cultural events emphasizing contemporary music and enhancing Saint Louis' reputation as a significant location for the creation and performance of improvisational and experimental music. NMC has presented a continuous season of concerts since 1959, making it one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the United States.

Sponsored by MAC, RAC, A&E

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hafiz and John Cage are good enough for today

The Five Days Remaining (by Hafiz)

The goods produced in the factories of space and time
Are not all that great. Bring some wine,
Because the desirables of this world are not all that great.

Heart and soul are born for ecstatic conversation
With the soul of souls. That’s it. If that fails,
Heart and soul are not in the end that great.

Don’t become indebted to the Tuba and Sidra trees
Just to have some shade in heaven. When you look closely,
My flowering cypress friend, you’ll see that these trees are not all
that great.

The true kingdom comes to you without any breaking
Of bones. If that weren’t so, achieving the Garden
Through your own labors wouldn’t be all that great.

In the five days remaining to you in this rest stop
Before you go to the grave, take it easy, give
Yourself time, because time is not all that great.

You who offer wine, we are waiting on the lip
Of the ocean of ruin. Take this moment as a gift; for the distance
Between the lip and the mouth is not all that great.

The state of my being – miserable and burnt
To a crisp – is proof enough that my need
To put it into words is not all that great.

You ascetic on the cold stone, you are not safe
From the tricks of God’s zeal: the distance between the cloister
And the Zorastrian tavern is not after all that great.

The name Hafez has been well inscribed in the books,
But in our clan of disreputables, the difference
Between profit and loss is not all that great.

-Translation by Robert Bly

...and, of course, on days like today, I think of Bukowski who wrote about days like today. He said that it is good to fall asleep behind the sofa for a couple days. Lie around in the dark for a couple days. Take time for yourself. Let the juices replenish.
You have to do it,you know?
If for no other reason than to remember what a crazy, fucking life you live and how mad and beautiful it all is when you let it be.