Made the book club read 'Ham on Rye' (1 Viewer)

I was in Los Angeles recording music when the studio owner mentioned that his studio space used to be a bar. He said it was where Charles Bukowski often drank. Also, someone once got stabbed at this bar. They lost their liquor license and closed. Now, the building is a music studio that belongs to my friend.

I'd heard a little about Bukowski's writing before. When I was enrolled at a music school in Boston there was a bar called "Bukowski's" right up the street. During my time living there, I also heard the song "Bukowski" by the famous rock band Modest Mouse. I was too dumb at the time to figure out that this was all about the same guy.

When my LA music friend mentioned him to me, I decided that I should choose one of his books for my monthly book club that's based here in NYC. After all, if what he said was true, that means I was there recording music in the same room that Bukowski used to drink. Pretty cool.

I had my book club read Ham On Rye. Man, what a fucking treasure.

Plenty of the women in the book club had issues with the book and/or just didn't like it. They even seemed angry at certain parts of it. For example, his liberal use of the word "cunt.". The boys, on the other hand, all mostly agreed with me. Ham On Rye is a great American novel.

I'll admit here that Bukowski can get to me in a way that not many other authors can. I cried the first time I read "Roll The Dice". I come back to that poem for inspiration every time I get too bummed out.

Anyways, I discovered this forum today for a reason that might put me at odds with some of the commenters. I had an idea about putting one of Bukowski's other poems to music. On a whim I went looking up things like 'permissions to use work', 'Harper Collins/Ecco', and discovered this wildly entertaining place. Very informative to see why there is a negative opinion in this community around that type of appropriation. Also, I probably can't afford the rights to do it anyways.

If I did ever become rich and powerful enough to buy the rights, I’ll admit I would be doing it for purely selfish reasons. I love these poems enough to know that it would bring me joy to ever get to sing and play one of them. Hell, if I was rich enough I'd buy a fancy hologram machine and project Charles Bukowski on stage with me for a duet. They project Michael Jackson on to a stage in Vegas every night so why not bring back Buk? We could duet it like when Johnny Cash sang "A Boy Named Sue" with that song's original writer Shel Silverstein. Only kidding. I wouldn't ever want anyone to watch me attempt that.

Could a Bukowski poem ever make a damn good song? Probably. But perhaps better for everyone if best left to itself.

I’ve never set a poem to music before. In fact, tomorrow I might even think this idea was so dumb that I'll come back and try to delete this whole post.

I'm very excited for the upcoming studio time I have next month with some new original material. I even signed a nice little publishing deal last year. Sometimes they put my music on TV. Go forth little children and make daddy money.

So screw my poem-to-song idea. That type of thing has likely been done to death anyways... the true highlight out of this whole experience was finding this forum.

It's a real delight to see an online community of people who enjoy this author as much as I do. I look forward to any recommendations of what I should read next. Safe to assume there are plenty of experts here on the material.

Also, it was priceless to see the take-downs on artists who have tried and failed at setting Bukowski's words to music. They come to this forum and often meet the critical equivalent of a single digit 'Rotten Tomatoes' score. That was a fun read. Cheers to the moderators on that one.

Lastly, I am enjoying the "What are you listening to?" thread immensely.

Nice to meet you everybody. Thanks for making this a thing.

P.S. my avatar is a screenshot I took of the studio space and rumored former Bukowski bar.
For what it is worth, Bukowski REPORTEDLY drank in a LOT of bars that he never set foot into. Around here, the same thing happens with places that George Washington SUPPOSEDLY stayed. American mythology at its finest...
The music studio is located in East Hollywood on the corner of Fountain Ave and N Normandie Ave.

More American mythology for you: I was told that Bukowski had carved his name on to one of the stools with a knife. The former bar owner supposedly took the stool with him but my music studio friend attests to seeing it. I imagine that stool would be worth a fine penny. But then again any schmuck can carve up a stool with a knife and say someone famous did it...


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I was told that Bukowski had carved his name on to one of the stools with a knife.
That seems unlikely.

That corner is really close to where Bukowski lived from the mid 60s to the mid 70s, but as Bill said, there's someone in every bar in Los Angeles who will swear Bukowski was in their place every night.

If you read his writing and his letters though, you can see pretty clearly that he mostly drank at home, or at the homes of other people. His "barfly" days happened when he was much younger.

He left that DeLongpre apartment in 1973, and he wasn't exactly what you'd consider famous at that time. So it seems like a stretch that someone would hold on to a bar stool he supposedly sat on or defaced 45 or 50 years earlier, doesn't it?

There's no way to prove or disprove claims like that. All you can go on is what was likely to have happened.

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