News from Vienna
My reaction to the Underwater CD. If anyone is worried about SPOILERS, turn thy head away right about NOW.
No peeking. (Happy New Years!)
There's excellent sound quality. Amiable audience. Before he begins, he announces he has a case of the flu, which sets a nice tone for the rest of his presentation, lol, with the usual giggling girl(s) in the background reacting to some of his introductory remarks. He starts off seemingly sober, but Bukowski must have been partying a great deal before the reading in Mormon country, and there's one thing that can be said for sure: he breaks his personal speed record for getting completely smashed before he's even half-way through his performance, and it shows more than usual.
Another new first, among all the 7 or 8 CDs I have in my possession, is that he is either feeling so infected by his flu, or is so thoroughly satiated in his drunken condition, or a combination of both, that he fails to complete some of his poems and leaves the listeners hanging. (Even drunk to his gills on Hostage he still managed to struggle through to the end of each poem; but not so here.) Although he's apparently not depressed by his condition, he's in agony. Between poems there are his noticeable agonizing combinations of sighs, moans and groans. He's not in front of a hostile audience but doesn't seem to know how to enjoy it or take advantage of it: he seems to equate their silence with a lack of understanding or interest. Not so. On the contrary, I think they were there for the poems and not the antics, and he could have read more of his serious ones. This reading duplicates some of the poems on Poems and Insults but he always reads unpublished poems and there are a few surprises. The best line for me is from "Big Gray Balloon Things""”and I still chuckle about it"”"into the elephant's ass shoots the sun." Try to get that out of you mind once it's in!
So there are a few rays of sunshine, but Bukowski could have used a little more sunshine going into his own ass to illuminate his way on this day, because I think he muffed this one. Still, a miss can be just as illuminating as reading his string of hit novels. (I have to laugh when I read of people trying to protect his image or legacy after they approve the release of a self-involved and befuddled Bukowski so deeply in his cups here that he's unable to get through a reading in front of a non-hostile audience and is completely lost in his drinking, wanting to be anywhere but where he is, and yet they are still eager to hear him"”or so it seems. Whatever legacy has been dispoiled, it has first been depoiled by him, and the good thing is that it doesn't make any difference in his popularity, or to me.)... By the end, he's so completely fucked up that the reading mercifully peters out, and the forgiving audience lets him off the hook. If there had been more good-natured highjinks here, and most likely less flu, this reading might have turned out a real winner, as everything started off so promising, good recorded sound included. As it is, I notice that I haven't wanted to listen to it again, and I cannot bring myself to like something just because it's Bukowski. It's a hell of a Vienna. (And don't worry, the CD will probably sell well among the diehards anyway.) "”Poptop.