the old soul-suck life

I meet the famous movie star, he’s playing Chinaski
in this movie, I put my hand on his shoulder:   you’re
all right, Ben,” I tell him.
then the famous Italian director puts his leg up on
the table:   “I’ll drink with you Chinaski,” he says.
(that’s the way he always drinks, I’m told)
“o.k.,” I say and I put my leg up on the table.
I drink off my glass, he fills it again, I drink it
off again, he fills it again.
they know I am the real guy then.

the next day the two Frenchmen and two Italians from the
film crew come over to my place and we get drunk all
over again, it has something to do with the movie.
one of the Italians, the one snapping me with his
camera, invites me to his place in Italy, his wife
would like to meet me and they have one thousands bottles
of wine in his cellar.
I ask him to write down his address.
we drink all day and into the night
the next day they all fly to Italy to finish shooting
the movie and I get some rest.

but not for long: a day or two later Bo Walberg phones,
he’s a San Francisco literary hood, he says he’s done
an article on me for a men’s mag and would I mind going
down to Sunset and Vine for some shots and I say,   “all
right.”
and they put a little girl with big tits on my lap, she
is dressed in black underwear, long stockings, high heels,
she scared me, she scares me, and a very sensitive boy
with red hair flashes the shots.
of course, we get drunk during all that and somebody puts
some music on and I do an Indian dance for 22 minutes.
they get some good shots, I’m told…

next then the great French director comes over.
he is a gloomy little fellow and sits in a dark corner
drinking his wine and not saying anything.
sometimes I don’t feel like talking either, so we drink
a long time not saying much.
then he hands me a big bundle of francs.
he still doesn’t talk.
he has a friend with him, another French director and
he says to me:   “G. wants to use some of your lines in
his next film but says you won’t credit for them.”
“tell him,” I say, ” just dandy.”
I walk upstairs, throw the bundle of francs in a closet,
then come down to drink somemore.

next then comes a new young actor just getting
famous, just missed the Acad Award and he is
really good–at acting, but
he has a rich dull friend and they just sit
around and talk about pussy and fucking, maybe
that’s what they think I want to
hear.
the boy actor challenges me to a fight.
he’s a good act, he just needs other people’s
lines
like mine.

then comes the famous song writer and illustrator
who often stays at the Playboy Mansion.
he has written a dozen hit songs which have made
other singers famous,
he’s a frackin’ genius and besides that he’s
good
but he doesn’t drink much
and when they don’t drink much they are
hard to talk to.

then comes the famous street singer who claims I
have influenced much of his work.
has just gotten married and his wife is along
and his wife talks all night and the famous street
singer just looks down at the tips of his shoes.
after some hours she gets tired and they
leave.

I’ve left some out (the drinking, you know)
all this has come very late and very soon
and I don’t understand any of it, so I meet the
famous German director, he has pistol battles with
his girlfriend, they shoot each other continually,
he’s very good, they say.
I meet him at this bar before a small screening of
an anti-alcoholic film, I catch him glancing at me
over his vodka and orange and I ask, “how the hell
do you make it?” and he answers, “well, I blush to
the very toes in my shoes but I make movies.”
“that figures,” I tell him.

I think the problem is
when you meet famous people they don’t look
like much.   it’s a
very curious thing.
it’s like when I was in and out of jail
I looked around at the guys and I thought,
these guys don’t look like jailbirds.   where are
the vicious?   where are the killers?
of course, I was looking right at
them.

and really the famous people don’t do much:
when you truly examine their work
it seems curiously weak–
just something taking a space because nothing
else is taking it.
after all, the famous are created by their
audience
and if I were the audience
nobody would be
famous.

and why do I keep writing things in the present
and past tense at the same time?

now I’m just going to drink and listen to the
radio.
why don’t you do the
same?

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1981
Source
Original manuscript