Bukowski Drank Here, or Did He?

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“I started drinking before you people were born. I’ll be drinking after I bury you.”- Charles Bukowski

Chances are it’d be hard to figure all the joints Bukowski bellied up to. His domain was Hollywood and Western for a chunk of his life when he was boozing/ writing poetry and prose by day and sticking mail at the post office by night. There’s a neat video of him reminiscing about his old neighborhood here.

That hood has changed a lot since those days with arrival of the Metro Red Line and scads of soul-less structures filled with fast food and big box stores which knocked out whole city blocks of mom and pop shops. It used to have equal parts grit and personality… lots of bars, liquor stores, and street life.

Though Bukowski was long gone (moved to San Pedro in the late 70’s) the area still had flavor in the 80’s and 90’s when we captured these pix. This dive was on Western– perhaps he tipped a few back here before getting 86’d. Notice the sex shop next door.

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The Study is wedged between a hotel and a liquor store that Bukowski recalls, so maybe he did some “studying” here as well. This spot became a gay bar in the ’90’s and has now been erased from the landscape all together. I remember it having a pot belly fire pit inside, providing refuge from the cruel LA weather I guess.

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Buk is said to have ventured west on Hollywood Blvd. to the Frolic Room, which keeps pouring ’em strong to this day.

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Big Ed’s was a classic Culver City watering hole, popular among actors, gamblers, & hustlers in ’40s & ‘50s. It seems a stretch to think Bukowski would have been a regular here as it falls so far outside of his home turf.

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It had its last last call in the late ‘80s. Just before shuttering, it was transformed into The Golden Horn bar, the setting of the cult movie, “Barfly”, the only screenplay penned by Bukowski. If you squint, you may be able to imagine the Golden Horn neon atop the Big Ed’s. Bukowski had a cameo as a bar patron towards the end of the movie, so maybe just maybe he did drink here after all…

Sometime after the movie was made Big Ed’s was razed, but not before being mysteriously burned, which is when this shot was snapped. Wouldn’t you know it became a parking lot. Now that’s poetry.

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Find more photography of old Los Angeles dive bars here.

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Missing Links In The Memory

I must have known they would disappear from the landscape because my early fascination with signs led to the purchase of a camera to snap photos of them.  Sometimes I took careful symmetrical aim like with Jack & Hy which in my memory was a small juice bar with awning, four chairs and a counter.  A straightforward joint that squeezed juices in place of grilling burgers.  I pictured it on a small garment district street south of the downtown center.  An internet search references such a juice joint on 754 S Olive Street & 8th.  It was last inspected by the city health department in 2009 when the lack of hot water and a parade of rats and roaches closed it down.

Another sign in the photographic memory bank is a bar on Hollywood Blvd.  I was probably on the bus when I snapped this shot because there’s no art nor symmetrical science to the tilt and crop of the shot.  It’s just a document and barely that.  A quick check on google just now finds another reference shot of the Side Show for purchase, which never came up in countless searches before.  http://www.hollywoodphotographs.com/detail/6022/side-show-bar-and-drakes-mens-store-on-hollywood-blvd-west-of-highland-ave/

If you look closely at the sign by the left of the entrance you’ll see that the Side Show opens at 7am.  I was never smart enough to venture inside.

The other side of memory is discovering a photograph I don’t recall taking.  Maybe I was in the backseat of a car, drunk and on my way to being drunker.   How better to explain no memory of a joint with a name that describes my college years and beyond.   Perhaps in that is the loss of memory.   No book nor internet site references that any such bar ever existed in Los Angeles (or else where).