Tuesday, 26 June 2007
I was in Los Angeles for two and a half months travelling about by bicycle. I was doing the tourist thing for some of that, then picked up a Bukowski book to pass the last week of my stay, and was inspired to figure a tour. www.Esotouric.com offer one, but it wasnt due to run until after I had left. Then I found http://bukowski.net with a whole wealth of information pertaining to Charles Bukowski, and an excellent timeline page with addresses. So I tapped them into my GPS, and took off for two days with a camera to follow the ghost of the old man.
I went in order of wherever was nearest, though I have put them into the google map as close to the correct order of time as possible.
What struck me was the quality of the areas he stayed in. Maybe things have changed a lot since the time he was there. Some buildings no doubt being replaced. But the only time I really felt I was anywhere near skid row was in Union Drive and a little around Westlake and Kingsley. Ocean View was clearly run down as a building with windows hanging off and stuff dumped outside as you can see in the photos, but Union Drive had it; bums drunk in the street, people hanging around looking shifty, and the entire area was run down. The photos dont really show it, but the place wasnt somewhere to hang about on a bicycle with an ipod strapped to my arm, and a gps on display.
Branden St was positively affluent. Though the exact place he lived is hard to figure out I think I got it right. Edgewater too was upmarket.
I was really glad to get a shot of De Longpre in, as it is condemned to be replaced and that place more than any other I imagined he did some of his best work. It had a vibe to it. I managed to forget to take a shot of the other place he stayed on De Longpre.
Longwood was pretty ok too, where he was brought up. In his own words in the book 'Hollywood', he was always heading North or West whenever he moved. That book confused me a bit as he states he moved from Carlton Way, which he describes as mexican and pretty run down, to another place, but according to the timeline on the bukowski.net site he moved to San Pedro from there. Maybe someone can clear that up.
The only other place I had a little confusion with was Westmoreland Ave, it seemed the number he lived at was now offices and car park. The condos on the opposite side of the street were all pretty nice, large and in place still. Number 305 you can see in the shot but the rest of the way up that side of the Avenue there are no homes. So what was there? It would be in keeping that it was all condos, like the opposite side of the avenue, but I guess there must have been a boarding house of some kind.
Then the last shot on the google maps is of two drunks asleep in Union Drive. When I arrived there they were cuddled up together. It was beautiful if a little fucked up. By the time I could stop and get the camera out without having to watch for people who might want to lift my kit, they had split up. I only found the world I expected to find in this place. It was Buke all over. Everywhere else, seemed too clean maybe. I dont know. I had kind of been prepared to fight my way through a war zone when I left that first morning. I cant say I am sorry it wasnt that way.
Anyway, hope the shots are enjoyed by those interested. I guess it was some kind of pilgrimage for me, I felt his ghost there a few times those two days. I read someplace that the old boy was buried by Buddhist Monks. Maybe he's doing good in the next life. Hope so.
Enjoy the tour those who come by this way...
Click here for the Bukowski googlemap tour