The timeline (1 Viewer)


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Have you visited the timeline lately?

You really should. It gives you a comprehensive overview of Bukowski's life and work. You can see what he was up to when that book you really love was published.

And now you can even see a bit of Los Angeles history that provides some interesting context, and on top of that, more than 125 pictures (many of them period-correct) have been added for your viewing pleasure.

It's alive!
This is great stuff. Spent some time going thru everything. I clicked every link ( QA! ).
Thanks for all this valuable data, available free to everone!
Thanks MJP. I've been reading the poetry books in order and I'm on "You Get So Alone Sometimes..." This really seems like a major Buk funk period. He seems really lost and doesn't know where to point his energy. And his confidence seems like an all time low. We all know that he makes it back and does some of his best shit ever (including outside of Black Sparrow), but what's happening at this point? The timeline doesn't give many hints... except he gets ill soon. This is by no means an insult to the timeline -- just a real question about what's going on with him at this point.
You Get So Alone... is the representation of a period of more concise, dare I say minimalist, style. It started in a small way in War All the Time and continued through some of the poems in Septuagenarian Stew. By The Last Night... he seemed to have melded his older style with that exhibited from '84-'90. Who knows what might have been going on - can't it just be a conscious effort to reinvent himself to prevent stagnation? Or an unconscious effort to do something else?
There are probably more things that can be added for the mid-80s. And who knows what will bubble to the surface when certain people are no longer around. Then again we tend to make saints of the dead, so maybe the real timeline won't be able to be done for another hundred years.

But as Abel (I think) pointed out some time ago, every time one of Bukowski's contemporaries dies off, we lose another piece of the puzzle, and eventually all we'll be left with are the myths that have been perpetuated. So it's probably best to get as much down as we can.
Great stuff. I feel that I haven't really made it clear enough how much I, as a fairly new and inexperienced reader of Bukowski, appreciate this website in general and things like this in particular. Truly a gift from above (at least above in the internet hierarchy) for us novices.
how the hell do you find time to get so much shit done?

you don't sleep? you've cloned yourself!

either way, great work - thanks!
I never would have guessed that he lost his virginity at 23 yo!!!
Does he ever talk about this suicide attempt in 61? Glad he didn't suceed. 68 wouldn't be the same!
And what are the facts behind it?
Thanks for the great work. As a history teacher, this timeline is just wonderful for me.
Does he ever talk about this suicide attempt in 61?
yes, e.g. somewhere in the Bukowski-Tapes by Barbet Schroeder. Also in his writing, but can't remember exactly where.

Whatever you find in the timeline is usually confirmed via such things as letters, official files, etc.
This timeline is as accurate as you can get at the moment and beats Sounes by the Dozens.
Took me a while to remember where I had read about it:
I tried gas once. turned on all the burners and laid down on the bed. it almost knocked me out, I was on the way, but something about breathing in all that gas, a kind of a grey-yellow feeling, and it gave me a headache, a terrible headache and the headache woke me up. and I got up laughing with the headache, YOU DAMN FOOL, YOU DON’T WANT TO DIE! and I kept laughing, it seemed very very funny to me and I walked in and turned off the oven and all the jets on top of the stove and I went out and bought myself a good bottle of whiskey and some very expensive cigars, and that night I ended up balling with a woman but I didn’t tell her she was fucking an almost-dead man.
(Screams from the Balcony, to Carl Weissner, May 13, 1967, page 304)

I believe he wrote about this episode in some other occasions, but this recalling is probably the funniest.
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This timeline is as accurate as you can get...
It is. I try not to put anything in there that hasn't been verified. But the nature of a timeline prevents explanations of where the information comes from.

I suppose it could have 10,000 words of footnotes, but it doesn't, so there you go.
Thank you very much, Zobraks.
You're welcome.
it seems it was not THAT SERIOUS of a suicide attempt. ;)
Well, it turned into a comedy (kind of), but I'm sure he meant business when he turned that gas on.
Remember the "Go ahead, pull that trigger."
episode from The C. B. Tapes.

The gas suicide attempt is also depicted in the poem No Luck at All (Slouching Toward Nirvana, page 229).
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I'm in the middle (or rather, stuck at the beginning) of writing my dissertation and have already quoted from the timeline a few times. Also it's such a lifesaver when I need to check important information. So let me send tons of gratitude to this forum (and rainbows and kittens and unicorns).
Don't ask me how I went down the rabbit hole that lead me to read this, but apparently during WWII Nabisco had to deal with rationing and ended up making dog biscuits for the U.S. Army. Bukowski said he worked in a "dog biscuit factory" and he worked at Nabisco in Philadelphia during WWII, so it's quite possible he was making biscuits for the U.S. Army K-9 Corps.

He went to such great lengths to avoid the Army, to think that he may have ended up (indirectly) working for them is kind of funny. To me, anyway.

"During World War II the company was again faced with the problem of rationed flour, sugar, butter, and oil. Recipes were altered and substitute ingredients used. Nabisco also developed an emergency field ration for pilots and paratroopers and even supplied the canine corps with dog biscuits."
Latest update to the timeline (aside from the pictures of the Aragon) is a new address and picture for Milliron's department store. One of the poems in On Love made me curious to investigate again ("A Place To Relax," where he talks about walking home from work and usually finding Jane gone). There's not a lot of info out there about Milliron's, but what we have is more accurate now. From Milliron's to Union would be about a 30 minute walk, and the buildings and streets are all still there if you want to make a pilgrimage. ;)

Though the vibe is certainly different today. When he worked there in 1947-48, the blocks around Broadway and 5th, Broadway and 7th were the center of commerce and entertainment in Los Angeles. They can talk about "revitalizing" downtown for another hundred years, but it will never again be like it was in the 40s. No downtown anywhere in America will be.

more than 125 pictures (many of them period-correct)
166 now.
I should probably mention here that I changed the dates for a few things recently.

Based on the Streetwalker manuscript pages that we have it seems pretty clear that the first meeting with Jane was 1948, rather than 1947 as the published biographies say. I know that fiction is fiction, but the details in that fiction really rule out 1947. The main thing being him living a few blocks from Alvarado St., which his 1947 address definitely is not (but his 1948 address definitely is). This also assumes that the address dates we have are correct, and I'm confident that (almost?) all of them are.

We also used to have him starting at Susan Miller Dorsey High School in 1936 and transferring to Los Angeles High School in 1937. Which would be fine except I recently learned that Susan Miller Dorsey High School opened in 1937. So unless he was working on the construction crew, he couldn't have been there in 1936. I moved both of the high school mentions forward a year to accommodate that new piece of information.

I've probably adjusted other things that I can't think of at the moment. I'm tweaking that thing all the time, based on little tidbits found here and there. I mention these here now (and will also in the future) so when someone says, "Hey brah, you got the date wrong for that one time he ate a falafel sandwich!" I'll be able to remember why the dates are the way they are.
The timeline is great. MJP, did you recently add the Inflation Calculator feature? I don't remember noticing it before. I ran into DH Lawrence's wage as a teacher somewhere online and was annoyed that it did not show an adjusted rate, so I had to do some searching. If anyone's curious, here's what I found: Lawrence made £100 per year as a teacher from 1908-1910, which is £11,000~ today ($15,790). For 1955, we have Bukowski's salary as a permanent carrier at $3,470, or $30,832 today. It really makes me wonder what were the expenses for essentials back then!

You've got to admire the amount of detail put into that timeline of Buk's life. That timeline's comparable to one you might find in an Oxford or Norton edition, but better. It helped me quite a lot while reading the letters collections.

Well, amigos, I'm out.
without which the pure inflation-rate is meaningless.

You made a great point roni. Here's what I found...

The BLS website has an article ("One hundred years of price change: the Consumer Price Index and the American inflation experience") that reports the average cost of a "living room suite" in America as $172.44, or $1,532.22 with inflation, in 1955. I presume that's a monthly rate. I'm still not sure what they mean by "living room suite." Would that entail a bedroom, a living room, a small kitchen, and a bathroom? That seems luxurious compared to what Bukowski had in the early days albeit he did end up in some decent places later on, such as the ones he was living in by that point. Do you think the Westmoreland apartment was as wild as it looks in that timeline photo with the ivy or whatever it is growing on it? Anyway, that salary I reported was only held for 10 days. I wonder what that salary was compared to the Distribution Clerk job he last held. Where should we look to find that out?

If anyone's curious about the cost of other things from 1955, you can check the link here:

My apologies if there are some rules against linking. I recall some shameless self-promoters got licked awhile back, but I figure this link is relevant. Let me know if the amigos find something. Personally, I don't understand a cent!

EDIT: Note to MJP: somehow the calculator missed my eye on other look-thrus. Like I said, there's a lot to see on that great timeline. Thank you nonetheless!

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