On the occasion of the 102nd anniversary of the author’s birth, here’s something nutty we found in the Charles Bukowski’s archives at the Huntington Library, while researching the making of the film Barfly for our special audio track recording accompanying the Imprint Collection blu-ray that’s out next month.
The file number is Buk 2311, a letter franked December 22, 1988 on City Hall stationary. It is a gracious fan’s request from councilman Michael Woo, representing Hollywood’s CD13 from 1985 to 1993. It’s so odd to think there was a time in living memory when local politicians appreciated the work of artists who portrayed the city is a less than perfect light, instead of helping out-of-state developers destroy the cheap apartments they need to survive.
If Bukowski went out for lunch at Musso and Frank with Woo and his brother-in-law Richard Wong, there’s no evidence in the files. We doubt he would have. Bukowski moved away from East Hollywood in 1978, and is seen in Barfly director Barbet Schroeder’s The Bukowski Tapes interviews lamenting how his old neighborhood was destroyed by civic leaders seeking to clean it up for the Olympics. Although Woo wasn’t elected until later, and had longtime cultural heritage coordinator Ileana Welch running his office, “The City” was no friend to Charles Bukowski or the vulnerable people he wrote and cared about. And by 1988, he could afford to pay for his own lunch.
Oh, I hope he did take him up on the free lunch. I can picture the three of them sitting in that esteemed grill as Charles’ voice got louder. “Taking it to city hall,” was a favorite pastime of Los Angeles critics, especially the ones who loved the old place as it used to be. As always, you sent us a pleasant read!
It is fun to think about what might have transpired if this meeting of minds happened. It would make a neat short play!