New CD of Buk Reading from Litmus/The Temple (1 Viewer)

Got mine today (in Oz!) and listened to it as soon as the girly left the house.
It starts out very well - he's in control and the recording is close, intimate - you can hear all the little details.
He reads some great stuff but the highlights have to be 'Two Horse Collars' & 'Memory'.
The crowd don't seem to 'get it' (to me) and Buk is definitely nervous as hell - you can hear it in his voice.
Still.. great stuff
Glad to have it and all thanks to Mr Potts.
Remember that this was recorded in Utah. No offense to Utah (and I have a good friend there), but they are a but "different". 90% mormon and, I suspect that anyone that is into Bukowski would generally keep their entheuasism (sp?) in control. They are not allowed free expression like most other states. The state (especially outside of Salt Lake City), is very much run by the Mormon Church. This creates a strange mentality. When you have a 90% ANYTHING MAJORITY, THE OTHER 10% LEARNS TO hide. THEY DO NOT VOICE THEIR OPINIONS AT WORK BECAUSE IT IS CAUSE FOR RIDICULE, NON-INCLUSION AND GETTING SWEPT OUT HE DOOR BY YOUR MORMON BOSS. (OK. i HIT THE CAPS LOCK KEY BY MISTAKE. This is better).

My friend is a scientist in Utah. Many of the people that he works with are devout Mormons. They are SCIENTISTS why believe that the earth is $5000 years old (because the Bible says so), that Jonah hung out in the belly of a whale (because the bible says so), etc.... These are SCIENTISTS that think this way....

My point here, is not a rant against Mormons, but a note that the subdued audience in Utah is a bit like you would get here, in Southern Delaware. In this NASCAR state, those that are not NASCAR fans learn to HIDE....

Bill: I enjoyed your vicious anti-Mormon rant. Just kidding. I understand what you're saying. You better hope you're never traveling through Utah and your car breaks down and you walk into the nearest town and ask for help and they check with the Dept. of Homeland Security or whatever agency it is that's been spying on us, and they pull up your post about Utah, and you're screwed...

But my real reason for being here is to say that I listened to the rest of the CD, starting at track 20, and it's ironic that I chose that point to stop at before, because it's right there that the tide turns, the alcohol starts to take effect, and Bukowski starts to lose it. Now, when he makes some small error, muffs a word or can't find the next page of a poem, he gets pissed off at himself, disgusted (with himself as a reader? as a poet? with poetry? at even language itself?) and says "f***" this, let's go on to the next poem. And this happens with most or all of the remaining poems. He reads the first few lines, stumbles or gets bored, and throws it away. Amazingly, he doesn't lose the crowd doing this. They seem to understand that a drunk Bukowski is a different element than a sober Bukowski, and they're okay with it. At one point he says something like "Well, you came to see Bukowski lose it, so you got your money's worth" and it's a comic line, not a stunner. This later part of the reading, so different in tone, is still very interesting and likeable, maybe because it's easy to identify with his self-disgust and his decision to abandon each poem rather than struggle against it. He starts off each one quite seriously, but the tongue can't quite pull it off, and the brain is lagging, and the soul has a shadow over it. Fascinating shit. A good, friendly crowd there; they do not turn on him, and he still isn't heckled and doesn't take out his frustration on them -- it's all inner directed. Maybe if it had gone on another 20 minutes, he would have been hurling insults and obscenities at them -- we'll never know. The after party must have been a hell of a ride. Has anyone seen any reports on it? Now that I know the full arc this reading takes, I want to listen again, to see if I can detect the negativity of the ending looming ahead in the beginning. Two Bukowski's are at war here: the careful, fiercely intelligent man of letters who strives above all for clarity and honesty and purity in art, and the angry, self-defeating drunk who rages aganist his inner demons. Great CD. Thank you Mr. Potts for publishing it.
Thanks for the props. It's nice to think I got something right in this life. I woke up thinking about Bill's explanation of why the audience might have curbed their enthusiam, being in Utah, Mormon territory, and then wondering (and this is a real stetch) if there might possibly be some connection between the Mormon church and Bukowski's "presence" in Utah. Two things came to mind. Well, three, actually. One is that his small book of poetry, POEMS WRITTEN BEFORE JUMPING OUT OF AN 8 STORY BUILDING was published by Litmus Press in Salt Lake City (this is from memory, I may have it wrong). Secondly, this new CD comes out, and it's Buk reading in Utah and published by Litmus Press -- have they been around all along, or is this a reimergence of the press? Thirdly, I used to get catalogs from a rare book dealer in Utah, Cosmic Aeroplane if I'm not delusional, and they sold a weird (to my mind, anyway) mixture of underground literature (Buk, Beats) and antiquarian Mormon books (1840 editions of the Book of Mormon). I still have those catalogs somewhere. All this swirling around in my brain as I lay half awake this morning. Was Buk and undergcover front man for the LDS church, kind of like Tom Cruise and John Travola are for Scientology? Or am I nuts? Probably nothing there, but it might be worth looking into. Or not. Nevermind -- this is as half-baked and crazy as when I start talking about aliens. You don't want to hear that. All of this is mostly tongue in cheek.
Okay. Fully awake now. I just did a Google search on Litmus Press and learned that Charles Potts is the founder of Litmus Press. That explains why Litmus published Bukowski's Poems Written Before Jumping Out of an 8-Story Window (not "8 Story Building" as in my last post) and now has published the Buk CD. There goes that conspiracy theory. I really shouldn't post before I've had two cups of coffee. I wake up half nuts and slowly get saner as the day wears on. It's a dream state thing. But there still might be something to the Mormon-Bukowski connection. I'll have to do some digging on Cosmic Aeroplane books...
ps: I'm joking on all this, of course. No offense to Mormons, Litmus Press, Cosmic Aeroplane Books, Bukowski fans, or anyone else intended. I have a bizarre sense of humor. I'll shut up now.
A bizarre sense of humor is often needed in life and sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction...:)
Bukfan & HenryChinaski: thanks for the vote of confidence. There are times I really should keep quiet and morning is one of them. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction: it's the strangest thing around. Someday I'll rant about another, more plausible Bukowski conspiracy theory, but not now.

Back to the topic of this new CD; it really is a remarkable Bukowski reading. You can feel the mood shift -- it's like a plane taking a sudden dive. He's flying along, high and clear, no turbullence, and then suddenly -- swoop -- barrel rolls, sputtering engine, propellers stopping and starting, the deep descent. I would love to read an account of what happened that night at the party. I bet it was outrageous.
Hi David (Rekrab).
I'm not sure which post it was where you mentioned the book "A poet and a murdered", about the Hofman forgery murders, but I bought the book and read it cover to cover, with only a 6 hour break to sleep. Great book. Now HE hated the Mormons. That was the basis of his forgeries; to fuck with the Mormon church. He was so good that his forgeries got him to the highest levels of the Mormon church while forging documents by Joseph Smith & Brigham Young. These were forgeries that pained them in a VERY bad olight and the church bough them just to keep them from ever being discovered. Then he would leak that "someone" sold a document to the church and that they were covering it up. Really a genius. Well worth the read. You can pick this book up on abe or ebay for a few dollars. Well worth it...

This will also peak your interest on the strangeness of the founders of the Mormon Religion. If interested, read up on it....

Hi Bill,

Glad you enjoyed THE POET AND THE MURDERER. I must confess to having a fascination with the Mormon faith (and other cultish religious movements), as well as being an Emily Dickinson freak (I know, "What? A Bukowski fan AND a lover of Emily Dickinson???), plus an interest in manuscripts, forgeries, hoaxes, etc., so this book pushed all of my buttons. You're right: Hofman seems to have been motivated mostly by a deep hatred of the Mormon church. He created fake documents that cast doubt on the origins of the church, which is kind of ironic, because there are some troubling questions generated by the church's "real" documents. But faith is faith, and who are we to question anyone's beliefs? Like you say, it's a great read.
Got my copy of the underwater poetry festival today.
It really is an amazing reading, probably my favorite actually.
my god, Hank was really fucking hilarious. man, this cracks me up.
Yes, it is -- amazing and hillarious. There's one part where he's about to say something and stops himself, and says something else like "Ah, nevermind, I was about to say something stupid." Man, can I relate to that.
the funniest part is when he's about to say something and he fucks up, sluring his first few words and then just intentionally gurgles like made up sounds. holy shit THAT FUCKING CRACKED ME UP.

at one point during the reading buk says "my god, poetry is so sickening!" i think it's at the end of "Memory"

what a great reading.

"lets all be good drunks together. now, where were we? does anyone remember? JUST THROW THIS FUCKING THING OUT. here's a better one. ezra pound bores me."
It's fascinating how he transitions from being almost tight in his control to very loose, bordering on sloppy. I didn't feel he was totally into being controlled nor did he really get into being out of control. More that he wanted to bag the whole thing. Those are his most honest moments in the recording, when he says (in effect) hey, skip the poetry, let's go party! And if I had an hour to myself, I'd listen to it again.
hey even asks the audience if they have any questions. at the end of the reading. so guy asks about a boxing match and buk says..."yeah, foreman's gonna win."


"Buy my books and be saved."
"my message is no message at all."
"so, I'm sorry you wasted your ten bucks!"
the complete skinny

will be coming your way one day. I like the sensitivity the CD of Bukowski at the Underwater Poetry Festival is being listened to with. When I have more time I will explain some things. Why I think he partly "lost" it midway thru, etc. the first printing of the 8 story window book, took place in California in 1968. the 2nd and 3rd printings were done in Utah. The parties at the Underwater festival were off the chart. More later.
I also received my CD today, really enjoyed it. The quality is excellent, I was worried it might be hissy or poorly recorded, it's not. You wouldn't think it was from 32 years ago... First thing that really struck me was how terribly SICK he sounded, that he must have been miserable battling the FLU and stuck in Utah! :)
I get a sense the crowd was pretty minimal, not so much a case of it being a Mormon crowd but just small... The crowd was a bit of a welcome change, some of the recordings really brought out the loudmouth losers, who believe because they are drunk and it's BUK they must constantly yell out and challenge him.
Highly recommend it for the 12 or 14 bucks I paid.
Charles: I'm sure everyone on this forum would love to hear your memories of Bukowski. As one of his publishers and the organizer of that reading, you had a close up view of him that few people had. Please do share that as soon as you can. We eagerly await your words.

Question: is there any chance of a new edition of POEMS WRITTEN BEFORE JUMPING OUT OF AN 8 STORY WINDOW? I'm guessing not, but I had to ask.
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.
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well said...
my fav. part is probably still the fact the crowd isn't full of assholes.
nothing worse than a crowd believing they are more entertaining than the guy they paid to put up on stage...
guys challenging him gets boring real quick. Utah brings out very controlled crowds (or at least on this night!), we can hear and concentrate on what BUK has to say.

now what about that 2007 re-release of 8 STORY WINDOW!?
Remember that this was recorded in Utah. No offense to Utah (and I have a good friend there), but they are a but "different".
Hi Bill, I've heard what you've said from other people. Not to be too sweeping here, but I've also heard of people being ostracized by the religious community there for not being a Mormon, and I'm sorry to hear that. What I liked most about Bukowski's reading is that he remained himself and didn't censor his poems because of where the reading took place: in the center of conservative Mormon country. I'm sure he set the literary community abuzz there by his unabashed openness, his sexual content, his celebration of drink, etc. I think that lack of self-censorship is at the heart of his genius and there's no other way he could have been. "”Poptop.
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Just got my copy today. Well worth waiting for! There are many poems I have'nt heard or read before and the sound quality is real good. Just too bad Buk wasn't able to finish the reading. But that's the flu for you ;)
I hope the cd will be available on the big cd sites on the net someday, so that people who are not diehards like us also gets the chance to pick it up.
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A Second Listen

I felt the urge, at last, to give it another listen and I enjoyed it
more the second time around. He seems to momentarily lose it
on "$5.95" and then regains his balance for awhile. I can imagine
what it must have been like for him to give a poetry reading"”
which he was loathe to do but for the usual financial reasons"”and
then have to do one with the bloody flu. No doubt it was "party
hats" for him under the circumstances, and I think he got through as
much of it as he could with a certain drunken grace combined with
the mood of good-natured surrender to the experience...whatever the
f--k that means. So, I'm glad to include it in my CD collection with
the rest of his irritable, exhaustive, but somehow engaging readings.
I still find it odd, though, how fast he was putting it away before he
seemed to fade from the combination of the flu, audience, beer or
vino. Maybe it was the Poet's Cure and he was trying to drown those
viral flu-ish f--kers. Anyway, I feel strangely relieved that I liked it
more after a repeated listen, and I got more out of it than the first
time around, especially from the reading of "Memory." That was a
deep one. Elsewhere, "...into the elephant's ass shoots the sun."

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Some Background Info

OK, Potts got me here... so a few notes on the Buk CD. I did the original recording and the CD production. I appreciate the comments on the sound quality, since it took a bunch of work, some good software, and lots of luck to clean it up.

There was a post or two about Cosmic Aeroplane Books. The Cosmic was originally a head shop in SLC, the first (I'm one of the original partners), started around 1966 or so. The Cosmic never published any books, but worked with Potts when he got an NEA grant to do the Litmus publishing. In those days (and still true today), we "hipsters" stuck together and provided mutual support.

The first book was 8th Story Window. Hand collated by walking around and around a kitchen table. Way crude compared to today's "print on demand" resources.

Anyway, if anyone has any questions, I'll try to answer them.

Oh, yes, Buk did get drunk at the reading. Potts mixed a whole pint of vodka with the orange juice in the thermos, instead of 1/2!
Rev. Willis: many thanks for giving us some background on Cosmic Airplane and Litmus Press. I was aware of both of them back in the 60s/70s and always suspected they were somehow connected. Or maybe I read that someplace and it was a given. Anyway, it's good to hear it from the source. I was always puzzled by some rare book catalogs I received from Cosmic Airplane that had (I was 25 to 30 years ago) an unexpected mix of underground lit first editions (Bukowski and Beats?) along side early Mormon imprints. I'm guessing there was no great scheme or meaning to that, other than that the shop had somehow picked up the Mormon books during the course of business -- i.e., an opportunity presented itself to make a few bucks. Or, maybe there was some meaning there, and the shop did have connections to -- or at least an interest in -- the Mormon faith. Noting your user name, "Rev.", that later scenario seems possible. Any light you can shed on that subject would be very interesting, to me anyway. If nothing else, it'll stop me from concocting wild and implausible conspiracy theories about the intersection of religion and literature in Utah. Thanks again.
Cosmic and Books and Buk

OK, now I think I have the connection. The last incarnation of the Cosmic did indeed involve a bookstore (I was long gone). The bookstore was managed by Ken Sanders, a rare book dealer and Utah historian. I suspect he was doing mailings in those days. He currently has his own store in SLC, and is the local outlet for the Buk CD. More info can be found at:

Great guy, and has a good supply of old and new Bukowski books.
That explains it, lol. He seemed to go from sober to shitfaced in record time. But what a poet still!

Yeah, I noticed that too (who did'nt). It sure happened fast! And now we know why. It's always nice to get some background information. Thanks, Rev. Willis...
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glad I bought this and it's a fine recording job, but I have to say I was disappointed on first listen.
the opening poems seem awkward and rushed and after he gets drunk, nothing is finished. and when he's drunk, there's little banter and beligerence.
still, I'm glad this document was put out and I'm happy to have it in my collection.
repeated listenings may bear more fruit.
thanks Rev. Willis and Mr. Potts.
Charles Potts partially describes the reading in his essay, How I came to publish Bukowski's Poems Written Before Jumping Out Of An 8 Story Window, in Last Call: The legacy of CB (lummox press.) i'm sure most of you will have that!

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