Happy Birthday You Filthy Animal: Celebrating Charles Bukowski (‘Post-Office,’ ‘Women’) With His Quotes
Today would have been author Charles Bukowski's 91st birthday. One of literature's dirtiest, crotchetiest old men, and damn proud of it, Bukowski died on this day in 1994 of Leukemia, shortly after completing his final novel, "Pulp."
If you've been to art school, taken a poetry class, or had an unusually disaffected adolescence, you're likely aware of his work. But even to the uninitiated, Bukowski's presence should still be recognizable. Much like William S. Burroughs, and Hunter S. Thompson, Bukowski's writing, and the man himself, has coalesced to such an extent with popular, and counter-culture, that it has been absorbed into the fabric of American consciousness. His influence on art, music, writing, and our culture as a whole is undeniable.
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Even if you're unaware of the embarrassment of riches hiding in Bukowski's collections of fiction and poetry, it's likely you've rubbed elbows somewhere along the way with his distinctive spit-fire spirit. His writing has been championed the world over by rock stars like Kurt Kobain, and celebrities like Johnny Depp, and was the subject of a documentary that featured Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton, and Bono -- not to mention several film adaptations of his books, the most recent, 2005's "Factotum" starring Matt Dillon.
In honor of that cantankerous wisenheimer, read along below for some timeless Bukowski wisdom.
"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must live."
"We have wasted History like a bunch of drunks shooting dice back in the men's crapper of the local bar."
"Pain doesn't make anything, nor does poverty. The artist is there first. What becomes of him depends upon his luck. If his luck is good (worldly-speaking) he becomes a bad artist. If his luck is bad, he becomes a good one."
"It was true that I didn't have much ambition, but there ought to be a place for people without ambition, I mean a better place than the one usually reserved. How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 6:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?"
"An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way."
"if I suffer at this
think how I'd feel
among the lettuce-
pickers of Salinas?
I think of the men
I've known in
with no way to
get out -
choking while living
choking while laughing
at Bob Hope or Lucille
2 or 3 children beat
tennis balls against
some suicides are never
"Death, at last, is a bore - no more than pulling a shade. we do not die all at once, generally, but piece by piece, little by little. the young die hardest and live hardest and understand nothing. but they are the most generous and the truest and better fit to lead than the cautious wise."
Did we forget your favorite? Let us know in the comments?