Bukowski on John F. Kennedy (1 Viewer)


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I wanted to collect some quotes of B. on John F. Kennedy for no special reason at all. Now I had the time. Enjoy:

"žI see where someone in power says Kenn[ed]y's program for medical aid for the aged is the "Idea of a bunch of socialist jerks from Harvard." It appears to me that the reactionaries to common intelligence and decency are defeating themselves with their vocabularies, Walter Winchell style. I was not for Kenny too strongly at first (the face, the good-boy unsuffering appearance) but Lord, in his first few daysin office he has really rolled up his sleeves. It is a shocking and heart-warming experience, and although I have never been interested in politics, I cannot help but notice. Which disproves a lot of malarky about the rich not being able to see through to the real problems. How slowly we learn, and when we have finally learned it is oh so often too late."

(Beerspit Night and Cursing, p. 179)

"Headline of Kennedy speech: I DO NOT SHRINK FROM THIS RESPONSIBILITY. Is he SUPPOSED TO? And Frost out there blubbering his poem, blind and white in the snow. Jory-Shermanizing himself. I'd like to see them catch Jeffers on that hook. No, they couldn't. Not enough bait."

(Beerspit Night and Cursing, p. 167)

"žIt is not essentially a happy mood and I kept thinking, this has nothing to do with the poem, this is how men die. Kennedy might phone me any day now and ask me to do a foreword to a campaign speech or something, and I will have to tell him what Frost did not."

(Screams from the Balcony, p. 25)

"žCorrington writes me to ask what I think of the Kennedy thing. So, after I finish with this letter I must write and tell my oh my I must tell him, and he's tough but he might not like what I say, and to you I say although I do not hold K. martyred as most, I do not like the dissolution of K. on down to a RUBY. The only thing that could be low enough to kill Ruby, a Ruby, would be a turd, and maybe one of them will stick into a stone mortuary within his intestines, but I doubt that"”shit generally gets along with shit."

(Screams from the Balcony, p. 59)

"You aske' me what I think a tha Kennedy. I don't think anything of the K. Down where I work they have a black sign under his picture:MARTYRED. Do you really think so? Harvard? A fine piece of ass that starved herself to keep a figure that would kill babies. Do you think a man is martyred because he follows the open downhill path? Is it really HELL to be born with more money than you can ever spend? Is it hell to never think about where the rent is coming from? Is it HELL TO HAVE SOMEBODY ELSE PUT A BULLET INTO YOUR HEAD INSTEAD OF YOURSELF PUTTING THE BULLET THERE? Where does hell come from and how do you spell it? Do only the top-figure people suffer? How many dead were buried on the same day K. was buried? Who bull-like bleeds from a sword? Hell, ace, who gets cut when they are shaving? Kennedy followed the wigwam in. He could have turned the presidency down. I WOULD HAVE. Oswald was a fink, true. He read too many books and lived too little. He was never in love with the sunlight or watching a cat walk across the rug. Kennedy was, a little. Ruby, he never saw anything. And now, being alive now, I think of Lincoln, he got it too, but I keep thinking, for all the turning he caused, could we not through the years of not-knowing, of awayness, [have] overevaluated this man?"

(Living on Luck, p. 51)

"žHamsun never ran out of things to say because Hamsun (evidently)
never stopped living. Hemingway stopped, or lived in the same way. Sherwood Anderson never stopped living. and then there are always little men in back rooms, like me, talking about their betters, saying what's right and what's wrong with them. there have always been and always be little men in back rooms: ask Malcolm X, ask Kennedy, ask Christ."

(Screams from the Balcony, p. 85)

"Stravinsky, Percy Grainger, hell, Mahler, the world was is and remains full
of good men who fall dead across the doorsteps, and if they don't kill themselves some son of a bitch will do it with a mail-order $12 rifle, or like with Gandhi, or like with Christ, let's laugh, it is not a game to win, it will never be a candy christmas forever, and sometimes the guy with the $12 rifle belongs, we no so little we know so little of how it works, and now believe me I do not mourn Kennedy anymore than I do Caesar because it seems that to get to the SO-CALLED TOP, it is most evident to me that you have to kill a lot on the way to get there."

(Screams from the Balcony, p. 106)

"soon after Kennedy was shot
I heard this ringing of bells
an electrically charged ringing of bells
and I thought, it can't be the church
on the corner
too many people there
hated Kennedy.
I liked him

(From "žthe bells" in What Matters Most, p. 91/92)

"I don't know but I think sometimes that fellows like Ezra and Celine and Ernie, Babe Ruth, Dillinger, DiMaggio, Joe Louis, Kennedy, LaMotta, Graziano, Willie Pep and Roosevelt just had a little more than the rest of us [...]"

(From "žthe unfolding" in The Flash of Lightening Behind the Mountain, p. 259)
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Thanks Johannes,
interesting to see that Bukowski was not interested in politics, yet had real opinions on who's at the top.

On the death of Kennedy,
he says
"I do not mourn Kennedy anymore than I do Caesar because it seems that to get to the SO-CALLED TOP, it is most evident to me that you have to kill a lot on the way to get there." CB

Good job!
Very nice collection of quotations. I like that Buk almost always seems to have a varied opinion on people... which is probably the most honest way to look at someone, especially in politics...
Nice collection of quotations. Thanks, Johannes!

"..if they don't kill themselves some son of a bitch will do it with a mail-order $12 rifle.."

Ain't that the truth!
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Cool quotes Johannes!
There's another interesting one from his 1967 interview with John Thomas in response to the assassination: "Kennedy himself was 9/10ths the way around the clock or he wouldn't have accepted such an enervating and enfeebling job--meaning President of the United States of America. How can I be over concerned with the murder of one man when almost all men, plus females, are taken from cribs as babies and almost immediately thrown into the masher?
But I must admit Kennedy, like Roosevelt, had an almost creative form of leadership, but political nevertheless and, in this sense, dangerous as a matter of trust and not at all a stimulative factor as to true fire, growth...something to make you feel good, better, bigger, more real. The whole assassination thing--Kennedy--the murder of Oswald--the death of Ruby---all the attending things do seem to STINK of something. Yet it is also possible that the whole was simply a continous error and erring of humans in moil and unworthiness..."(24) [from Sunlight Here I Am
Also I recall a poem where he mentions "Marilyn Monroe and her Harvard lover" but don't remember which one.
there's also a VERY interesting piece in the 'Notes' (p.45 in my softcover-edition), that starts with:

this guy in army fatigues came up to me and said, "now that it happened to Kennedy you'll have something to write about." [...]

of course this is Robert, but in that piece, he also talks about the other assasinated guys (John F., MLK, MalcomX, Jesus, ...) and how the political powers usually react on such occations. (just as they did with the 'Patriot Act' some 30 years later.)
Percy Grainger??!!

Now that's Bizarre.

What could he have 'seen' in PG to elicit that comment?
I'll never forget the day of JFK's funeral. I was six years old watching a TV that was painted bright red. No symbolizm intended, just a vivid memory.

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