Okay, here's a rundown on what happened. The event opened with a couple of people from the Huntington
talking about the acquisition, thanking Linda profusely, etc. They all made reference to the fact that the Huntington is a pretty conservative place, and it seemed odd to a lot of people that Bukowski's papers ended up there. Many references to how it was "a different crowd" in attendance that evening, but I didn't notice anyone particularly dangerous or disheveled or potentially unruly, so the "regular crowd" must be very tame and conservative.
The woman in charge of cataloging and describing the collection spoke, and she estimated it will take two years to sort it all out, and in 2010 they will put on a major exhibition of highlights of the collection. They already have some pieces on permanent display, but don't head over there to look for much yet. It's going to be a while before it's even available for "scholarly research."
In addition to what she called the most extensive collection they have ever acquired (multiple copies and states of even the rarest books) apparently there are also boxes and boxes of poem manuscripts ("thousands," she said), but she didn't say whether this was published material or not. Bukowski kept copies of what he sent to Martin, so much of it may be published stuff. I tried to find her afterward to ask her if the documentation would be available in some sort of searchable form online when they finish, but she had disappeared. I would guess it will be, as other parts of their collection are online.
Linda spoke briefly (after a very loud and long standing ovation) about their connection to the Huntington. It is very near a horse track that Bukowski would go to, so she would come with him sometimes, drop him off at the track, go to the Huntington and enjoy the gardens, then go back to the track in time for the last race. While I was speaking to her after the event she told me, "He would say, 'Baby, you've got the flowers and I've got the ponies...'"
John Martin is listed on the program, but he was a no-show. Apparently he was too ill to travel. No details on that, so I don't know if it's a serious problem or just a temporary thing he'll bounce back from.
Not listed on the program was the producer of the recent Factotum
movie, who was interviewed briefly (in addition to their being a dais where people spoke, there was also a couch and chairs on the stage where some people would sit and be interviewed by the moderator) and mentioned that the film rights have been sold for Post Office, Women
and Ham On Rye
, so there may be more films on the horizon. These things can take years to fund/develop though, so who knows. Many times rights are bought for a book and nothing ever comes of it.
There was a uninspiring, stumbling reading of a strange excerpt from Ham on Rye
by someone who's connection to Bukowski I forgot.
Neeli Cherkovski told a couple of funny anecdotes and read Crucifix in a Deathhand
from an original copy of Crucifix
, which he held up for everyone to see, briefly mentioning LouJon press and their early championing of Bukowski's work. Cherkovski has a strange way of speaking - cutting off the last words of every sentence when he seems to want to get something out quickly - that makes it hard to follow what he's saying sometimes. He was introduced by the moderator (a Los Angeles NPR personality) as the author of a "very highly regarded" Bukowski biography, which I found amusing, considering the way Bukowski was known to feel about it.
Harry Dean Stanton and S.A. Griffin read poems, then Harry Dean Stanton did the final reading of the night, The Crunch
, which he said was a special request from Linda, her favorite Bukowski poem.
The event was pretty long, due in part to the annoying and unnecessary inclusion of ac-tors
muddying up the proceedings with off-the-mark readings of poems. Borderline unbearable, these ac-tors
, with their overwrought, stagey readings. Apparently they have staged some plays based on Bukowski's work, and I can only imagine how horrible they were to sit through. Of course the male ac-tors
(there was also a woman in a big yellow prom dress who acted out a poem) chugged water from prop beer bottles...it was all just very wrong. Only sour note(s) of the evening. A short film - or really, anything else - would have been better than the ac-tors
acting their way around the room.
After the event everyone congregated outside near the bar and drank and yakked. Dennis from Vancouver (who taped the second-to-last reading), and Jon (who taped the final reading) were there. No new news on the release of those DVDs. They are in talks with some major distributors though, including the Criterion Collection
, so we may see some action there. Jon mentioned that he was going to try the Independent Film Channel, so who knows where these things will end up. Jon also videotaped the event. Don't know what he plans to do with that.
All in all, a good, loose evening, despite the attempts by the ac-tors
to kill it. ;)
Interesting to watch people approach Linda afterward. They treated her like a rock star. She stayed until everyone got a chance to speak to her, then the San Pedro contingent closed the joint and called it a night! Ha.