At Terror Street and Agony Way, a 2 CD set from King Mob
Well, I'm just going by the notes and the credit in the CD booklet.
I've tried to pick up all the commercially available reading/audio CD, and this one is a peach, if only for Fire Station, which is, as you'll know, classic. In fact, I wish Hamer had added it as an episode in his Factotum movie... Still...
"For Research Purposes"...
At Terror Street and Agony Way, a 2 CD set from King Mob
1. One For Ging With Klux-Top [3.42]
2. A Trainride In Hell [8.56]
3. Ignus Fatuus [7.16]
4. Yellow [2.16]
5. The Coloured Birds [3.29]
6. From The Department Of English [1.43]
7. The Underground [2.14]
8. Fire Station [7.30]
9. Birth [3.23]
10. No Lady Godiva [1.50]
11. Don't Come Around [2.41]
12. Number Six [1.18]
13. They, All Of Them Know [6.45]
14. Flyleaf [0.53]
15. The Tragedy Of The Leaves [1.48]
16. I Cannot Stand Tears [1.03]
17. A Real Thing, A Good Woman [1.55]
18. Man ln The Sun [1.34]
19. One Hundred And Ninety Nine Pounds Of Clay [2.42]
Disc 1 running time: 63.59
1. The State Of World Affairs [2.39]
2. Winter Comes [1.48]
3. No Charge [0.41]
4. A Literary Romance [3.14]
5. The Twins [3.30]
6. Regard Me [2.22]
7. Love Is A Piece Of Paper Torn To Bits [0.50]
8. Going For Sadists [2.08]
9. Sundays Kill More Men [4.25]
10. A 350 Dollar Whore [4.02]
11. A Shot Of Red Eye [6.26]
12. Beerbottle [2.19]
13. KO [1.01]
14. Seventh Race [3.35]
15. On Going Out To Get The Mail [2.54]
16. I Wanted To Overthrow The Government [6.40]
17. 35 Seconds [2.23]
18. True Story [1.51]
19. Sour Ghost [0.44]
20. The Weather Is Hot On The Back Of My Watch [4.43]
21. Migrants/John Dillinger [7.49]
Disc 2 running time: 67.11
Produced by Barry Miles.
Recorded at Charles Bukowski's house, De Longpre Avenue, Los Angeles, in January, 1969 on an Ampex 3000.
Mastered by Dennis Blackham, London June 1993.
Thanks to John Martin, Pat Slattery, Valerie Estes.
These tapes are the result of an abandoned, but not forgotten, recording project I began in 1968 about which the less said the better. I had been an admirer of Buk's work since 1965 and finally had a chance to record him. So it was in February 1969 I pulled up at 5125 1/2 De Longpre Avenue in a slummy part of East Hollywood near the 20th Century Fox Studios on Sunset in a rented green Mustang which looked gleamingly conspicuous in the shabby street. Slums in Los Angeles are not like those of other cities. During the Watts riots a few years before, the foreign press had driven straight through Watts looking for the slum because to European eyes these are reasonable houses: everyone seems to have a large car and a television, it's always sunny and there are palm trees lining the streets. It is not the South Bronx, it is only a slum in contrast.
De Longpre was made from large slabs of concrete, chipped at the edges, lined with utility cables and tall scruffy palms, some of which had died and rotted. The single storey wooden frame houses had peeling paint and there were holes in the screen doors. Bits of cars lay in front yards and rubbish blew about. A '57 Plymouth was parked on the ruins of Buk's front lawn. Beercans overflowed his garbage bins.
The screen door opened straight into his living room. The shades were drawn. Rickety bookshelves were overloaded with books, magazines, old newspapers and racing forms. The settee had a hole where the stuffing was bursting out. There was a pile of car tires in the corner and many empty beer cans, and in another corner was Buk's desk. Here was Buk's typewriter: a prewar, battered, sit-up-and-beg, black cast-iron Remington: dusty but for the carriage and keys which were polished by use, surrounded by cigar butts and ash, crumpled paper, extinct beercans. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of poems had emerged from that old machine; countless stories, columns for Open City, the local underground newspaper which had been running his "Notes Of A Dirty Old Man" column since May 1967, and letters to every little mimeographed poetry magazine editor who contacted him, from Germany to Japan, mid-west farm-boys to slick New Yorkers - hundreds and hundreds of them.
Bukowski seemed happy to see us, (I had my assistant Pat Slattery with me), but immediately after finding seats for us he was off, slipping like a shadow through the door, across the porch and away. Soon to return with another 6-pack. Now he had a smile on his face and a bottle of Miller Light in his hand. He found a glass for Pat in the messy kitchen in back, talked about the race-track and about his publisher John Martin, from the Black Sparrow Press, about little poetry magazines and his worries and fears about trying to make it as a professional poet. Essex House, the pornographic book publishers, had just released a collection of his pieces from Open City, called Notes Of A Dirty Old Man as a mass market paperback, (or as mass market as a company that published books with titles like Thongs was likely to get) and he was encouraged by this latest development.
We talked about the record. He was casual, relaxed and said that he had made a lot of home recordings before: "Sure, just show me how the machine works and come back in a few days. I'll just curl up on the rug with some packs of beer, my books, turn on the machine and..." I wired up an Ampex 3000, arranged a microphone stand and microphone, headphones and 12 reels of blank tape. He refused to allow me, or anyone else, to be present to supervise the recording, claiming to be too shy. Some of the problems he had with the equipment are spelled out in his between track comments on these CDs, most of them caused by his attempt to record on "both sides" of the tape which wiped what he had previously recorded.
Nine days later my assistant from San Francisco, Valerie Estes, and I pulled up in a blue rented Mustang. Buk was there, a bit hung-over, and so was a woman, middleaged, wearing black fishnet stockings and a black slip. She disappeared into the bedroom without speaking, emerging some time later ready to leave, looking tired and worn. Buk crushed some notes into
her hand. "Carfare" he said, as much to me as to her. Nothing in the room had changed. The Ampex was where I had left it but it was done; every reel was filled with Buk's careful selection from his writing - six hours of his favourite pieces. He said to be sure to listen to the one called "The Firestation" as he liked that best of all. Then he fold us a long story about his '57 Plymouth and about his landlord, flirted with Valerie, and eventually we got everything packed up and he helped carry it out to the car. A few days later, at the end of February 1969, Pat Slattery came by with a photographer and took the photographs you see here.
I agree with Buk that "Firestation" is the best track, because it has that mixture of tenderness and toughness, understanding and acceptance which characterise his Buk's best work. I really like these tapes because they were recorded before he became a "professional" writer. He had made a few tapes before, but these still have the conversational quality of someone who had not yet read his work in public. There is no attempt at performance other than getting the poem across. It happened that this was a turning point in his career. A few weeks after making this recording he gave his first poetry reading. A year later, on January 2, 1970, at the age of 49, he finally quit his job at the post office and devoted himself full time to writing. He couldn't get away from the post office, however; it became the subject of his first novel, called, unsurprisingly, Post Office published by Black Sparrow in February 1971.
Most people discovered Buk through the novels; Post Office, Factotum (1975) and Women (1978) with their gritty, erotic, uncompromising and above all, honest, portrayal of life at the bottom. They are in the tradition of Jack Black's You Can't Win or John Fante's three volume saga of Arturo Bandini (a major influence on Buk). His work stands alongside William Burroughs' Junky, Herbert Huncke's Guilty of Everything, the humour of Lenny Bruce, the growled vocals of Tom Waits, solos by Chet Baker or Art Pepper, the Beats and the deadbeats, the drop-outs and the freaks; white American males living in the underside of society, telling their experience with compassion and humour.
Bukowski started afresh, made a new life, got a new wife, began to drink fine wines instead of six-packs. He left deLongpre. He gave readings on smart college campuses and his books appeared in signed limited editions with paintings by him on the half-title. In 1987 Hollywood released the movie Barfly with a screenplay by Buk. His experiences working in tinseltown, which he didn't particularly enjoy, were recorded in Hollywood. He is still writing. He is doing
Miles, London, 1993