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Bukowski’s Bungalow

Was Bukowski a Nazi/sympathizer? Does it matter in issues concerning turning his old bungalow into a civic monument? Here’s a choice old quote to remember the bum by and a story about a bungalow From CNN:

The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.

Now it’s up to fans of the gutter poet to take up the fight to have his beaten-down bungalow turned into a civic monument over the objections of the property’s owners, who claim he was a Nazi sympathizer.

Backers say the east Hollywood abode deserves recognition and the restoration that would go with it because it’s where Bukowski banged out stories and poems that transformed him from a working stiff with a literary streak into an internationally celebrated author.

“The great books that really started him on his career — that all happened on De Longpre [Avenue],” said Neeli Cherkovski, author of “Bukowski: A Life” and a friend of the writer. “It was where Charles Bukowski became the voice of Los Angeles.”

But the owners, who tried to sell the bungalow court as tear-down for $1.3 million, are poised to fight the proposal before a city commission Thursday based on allegations that Bukowski had Nazi leanings.

Co-owner Victoria Gureyeva refused to discuss the issue on her lawyer’s advice, but previously said she would enlist local Jewish activists in her campaign against landmarking.

“This man loved Hitler,” Gureyeva, who is Jewish, told the alternative newspaper LA Weekly. “This is my house, not Bukowski’s. I will never allow the city of Los Angeles to turn it into a monument for this man.”

Attorney Joseph Trenk said their challenge includes the Nazi allegations, an issue raised by poet Ben Pleasants in the book “Visceral Bukowski: Inside the Sniper Landscape of L.A. Writers.”

Pleasants, who has not been asked to appear at the landmarking hearing, said the author’s sympathies toward Nazi Germany are crucial to understanding his writing.

“There are many examples of him making the bad guys Jewish,” Pleasants said in an interview, citing a sneering reference to Jewish lawyers in the book “Ham on Rye.” In his own book, Pleasants recounts a time he was interviewing Bukowski at a deli when the writer “gawked at the predominantly Jewish diners” and belted out “turn on the gas,” a reference to concentration camp gas chambers.

But Gerald Locklin, author of the biography “Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet,” said he can’t remember any evidence of anti-Semitism in Bukowski’s work or correspondence he shared with the author.

29 Comments

  1. rootlesscosmo

    11/29/2007 at 9:44 pm

    Was Bukowski a Nazi/sympathizer? Does it matter in issues concerning turning his old bungalo into a civic monument?

    uhhh…YES. a person’s sympathies toward Nazism is relevant to a discussion about ANY aspect of their life, work or legacy. it is relevant to a discussion of Wagner’s music. it is relevant to a discussion of Heidegger’s philosophies. and it’s relevant to a discussion of whether or not to enshrine Bukowski’s former abode.

    an all-encompassing doctrine of hate such as Nazism, particularly given the profound and still-relevant concrete effects of such a doctrine on our world, can not be separated from ANY discussion concerning a person who supported such a doctrine.

    this idea that we should view someone’s accomplishments in some sort of moral vacuum is utterly tired and ridiculous.

    that Bukowski was a vegetarian or that he was an alcoholic may be irrelevant to a discussion about what to do with his former home. that he may have been a Nazi is not.

    (none of this is to say that dude was a Nazi. but whether he was a Nazi is extremely important).

    • Nazi

      4/20/2016 at 5:23 pm

      If he was a Nazi, my respect for him has just doubled.

  2. themiddle

    11/29/2007 at 10:17 pm

    What the hell is a bungalo?

    Is that like a bungalow?

  3. grandmuffti

    11/29/2007 at 11:46 pm

    Muffti agrees that it is relevant to a discussion of wagner’s music, but not so sure it is relevant to discussion of heidegger’s philosophy. Hes pretty sure there is an informal fallacy (ad hominem) associated with that! Hes not totally sure it matters in this discussion since the nature of the enshrinement is his place of writing his materials.

    Muffti DOES think we should view some accomplishments in a moral vaccuum. we use Frege’s logic despite clear evidence he was a proto-nazi.

  4. ramon marcos

    11/30/2007 at 1:10 am

    I’m really concerned what a drunken derelict who was almost literate enough to describe his derelict lifestyle enough that hip creative writing students find him so cutting edge blurts out in his filterless train-of-thought ramblings about Jews.

    Like he’s the only one. How many of my hip creative writing student compatriots were so into Celine… and T.S. Eliot is forever lauded…

  5. Sarah

    11/30/2007 at 1:17 am

    Side note: he was born in the city I used to go to school in. All you can find there is a little section with his stuff set aside in the city library.

  6. ck

    11/30/2007 at 4:37 am

    Yeah what the hell is a Bungalo?? That’s not even a Canadian spelling Muffti! This is what happens when you don’t have an editor because you’re not backed by massive community funding… OY! This reminds me of Heidegger and questions related to what relevance ought to be attributed to his service to the Third Reich when assessing his philosophy. Well, all that in tandem with his boning Hannah Arendt… whatever, I’ll leave that to Philosophy experts like Muffti. Please note Muffti, it’s Heidegger, not “Hi Digger!” 🙄

  7. Sarah

    11/30/2007 at 5:21 am

    ck, over here in Germany we’ve got endless fun listening to Americans pronounce German brand, city or family names 🙂

  8. Shy Guy

    11/30/2007 at 6:07 am

    ck Says:
    November 30th, 2007 at 4:37 am

    Yeah what the hell is a Bungalo??

    Maybe it’s the Jewish equivalent of a Parker House roll.

  9. Sarah

    11/30/2007 at 8:38 am

    There are worse things than phonetic spelling…

  10. ck

    11/30/2007 at 8:57 am

    Sarah wrote: “ck, over here in Germany we’ve got endless fun listening to Americans pronounce German brand, city or family names”

    Back in America I had endless fun watching Hogan’s Heroes. Google it…

    “No one has ever escaped from Stallag 13!”

  11. Sarah

    11/30/2007 at 9:38 am

    I know Hogan’s Heroes. It was aired as “Ein Käfig voller Helden” over here, but the only athentic accent was that of Werner Klemprer (Commander Klink). Did you know that the guy who played Col. Hogan was murdered?

  12. grandmuffti

    11/30/2007 at 11:33 am

    With all due respect, amigos, criticizing spelling rather than substance is the sign of a pedantic mind. Especially when there is no bar to comprehension. So fuk yu pedentac peeple.

  13. Sarah

    11/30/2007 at 11:47 am

    I’ve just noted a few typos I made above…

    Muffti, vir hobn dich azoi lieb:

  14. Steve

    11/30/2007 at 12:18 pm

    i don’t know how far bukowski’s nazi sympathies extended in private but he had an Iron Cross hanging from the rear-view mirror of his car. you can see it in the documentary film about him called, “Born Into This.”

  15. themiddle

    11/30/2007 at 12:45 pm

    Well, now that you’ve adjusted the spelling, I can comment. 😉

    If Bukowski was a Nazi sympathizer, he did a good job of hiding it in his work and life. That’s one of the reasons this woman has to make a case that he was one, in contrast with open antisemites such as Roald Dahl, TS Eliot or Wagner.

    It’s hard to argue that one shouldn’t read or appreciate the work of antisemites simply because they’re antisemites. Roald Dahl was a superb writer and Eliot was a superb poet. We can decide not to support them or their estates by not buying their work or by buying their work used so that no money goes to their estates. We can choose to ignore their work, but then that would be our loss.

    When it comes to monuments to their work, it seems to be a silly debate to enter. If they were Nazis and connected to Nazi activities, then it makes sense to seek to obliterate their memory. But being antisemitic is very different than being part of a genocidal group and it’s silly to equate the two. I vote for ignoring Bukowski’s potential monument.

  16. grandmuffti

    11/30/2007 at 12:50 pm

    Muffti didn’t fix the spelling. Someone messed with his work!

  17. Sarah

    11/30/2007 at 1:11 pm

    Lavabo in innocentia manus meas.

    Has Muffti ever heard of a philosopher called Constantin Brunner?

  18. themiddle

    11/30/2007 at 1:11 pm

    Wasn’t me.

  19. rootlesscosmo

    11/30/2007 at 2:57 pm

    “It’s hard to argue that one shouldn’t read or appreciate the work of antisemites simply because they’re antisemites.”

    No it’s not.

    “We can choose to ignore their work, but then that would be our loss.”

    OK my loss then.

    (Like I said above, there’s things I can ignore and things I can’t. MLK’s womanizing or Marvin Gaye’s abuse of women: it sucks and definitely colors my views of them as people, but I am able to separate these defects from my appreciation of their other accomplishments. A political doctrine of which a major underpinning is hatred of my people, and which led to the obliteration of an entire culture — not to mention the slaughter of much of my family — that I can’t really ignore. Double standard? Sure. Whatever though.)

  20. WEVS1

    12/1/2007 at 1:12 pm

    “I vote for ignoring Bukowski’s potential monument.”

    We can ignore it, sure. But this really is about the owner of the property in question. She can’t ignore it. She wants to tear the old bungalow down, rebuild, and make some loot and a group of Bukowski fans and historical preservationists want to prevent her. Hopefully she’ll be able to develop the property as she pleases.

    Was Bukowski an anti-Semite? I have no idea. He held fascist sympathies and consciously avoided service in WWII due to pro-German sentiment (see below):

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001977/bio
    At City College, Bukwoski briefly flirted with a pathetic, ad hoc, pro-fascist student group. Proud of being a German, he did not feel inclined to go to war against Hitler’s Germany. When America entered World War II, Bukowski resisted entreaties from his friends and father to join the service. He began living the life of a wandering hobo and a bum…

    …This is a man caught on film, drunk, praising Idi Amin and Hitler in a series of interviews shot by Barbet Schroeder that ran on French TV in the mid-1970s…

    …Celine arguably is the largest influence on Bukowski’s prose, aside from Hemingway (who influenced Bukowski’s entire generation) and Fante. Like Celine, in World War II, Bukowski flirted with fascism (though Bukowski never descended into the anti-semitism of Celine or any other type of racism in his work…

  21. TheFireTones

    2/3/2009 at 6:23 pm

    I think its pretty clear Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical novel Ham on Rye that he is not anti-Semitic. Not that that has any relevance to the issue in question – objectivity is the key here; let us not see things through and ethnic lens…

  22. toxictown

    10/26/2010 at 2:34 pm

    It seems like most of this comes from biographer Ben Pleasants: http://www.hollywoodinvestigator.com/2003/bukowski1.htm which has been passed around via other websites. I guess he did float around fascist circles in the 30s/40s (other sources confim this) and the quote from the first page of the novel “Hollywood” is true (I’m looking at it now) so…maybe. There was a lot of this sort of casual rascism stuff around back then – doesn’t excuse it; doesn’t make it right – but I’m not sure it negates artwork produced by people that thought that way either.

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