Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Primal force of nature, my sister Linda in her screen play about her tortured life with the great alcoholic poet, Charles Bukowski

This is my sister Linda King as she looked when she first met Charles Bukowski. She was older than in this picture, but she was still slim and beautiful. I wrote about this Linda in my play Outlaw Love Story: Red Barfield and Dandy Cox. She comes home to visit not too long after she had her nervous breakdown. She went back home to have another child and this child was around three when she divorced her husband and the following year met Charles Bukowski.
We sisters already knew Linda was a force of nature. She was an athlete, running, climbing ledges and turning somersaults, walking on her hands, dancing. She was exceptionally strong and tended to go a little crazy if the men she was involved with could not tap this tremendous energy of hers. She stayed home with her children while her husband, a hard worker of Italian descent from Boston, made a good living in the landscaping business. He was a boss and he was responsible for putting in a lot of landscaping on the Los Angeles freeways. But he was tired when he got home at night. He did not even take her dancing once during their ten years of marriage. So that is how she came to dance away from him.
She had already begun to show a lot of sculpturing talent. When my sister LaRae came down to live around us for about a year she and Linda took classes the Universal studio and they both showed remarkable ability to get likenesses of their subjects in clay. LaRae went on to paint more pictures while Linda did more sculptures, but they could do both. Some of LaRae's portrait heads were as remarkable as Linda's.
Linda was also showing talent as a poet, too. She had always loved to recite poetry in readings and it wasn't long until she was writing poems, so after she was a single woman, she became very curious about Charles Bukowski and went out of her way to try to meet him.

The rest is history and this is the story she tells in this screen play she has been working so hard on, that she adapted from her memoir about their relationship with the help of her son who had taken a lot of film writing classes in college.
She has also interwoven a lot of the poetry they both wrote at the time about their relationship into the story with great effectiveness. I must say if this screenplay could be filmed as written it might stun the world as it somewhat stunned me. You get the terrible tragedy of alcoholism spelled out to you in such gigantic terms. Bukowski was a giant talent which was marred and defaced by his alcoholism. When you see him destroying himself you just want to cry for what he is throwing away, the chance to be as physically magnificent as Linda was in her prime. Bukowski was a physically strong man, probably due to all the shit jobs he had worked before he became a famous writer. He had not been sitting at home just writing very long when he met Linda, so his physical condition had not yet deteriorated. Linda was a strong country girl but she was also a complex personality and very talented to which Bukowski responded with real creative force.
You keep thinking oh what this man could have been had he not been a drunk! What an inspiring relationship this could have been, but as it is, his drunkenness pulls every scene down to gutter level, but Linda does not flinch from writing out in full all those scenes, too.
I will tell you, the actors who play this part are going to have to be in very good shape, even to play Bukowski on stage. This man was capable of anything to get a crowd going. He was an alcoholic showman if there ever was one. If nothing else he would take out his penis and pee in the plants to a party he thought too dull, which he did on one notable occasion when I was there. I could not help but call Linda's attention to it and say, "Linda, see what your boyfriend is doing now!"
Then I had to drive him and Linda home from the party having one of their gargantuan fights. Just to get everybody in the act Bukowski reached up and pulled my son Raymond's hair who was holding my other son in his arms who was just a baby. Raymond got mad and wanted me to stop on the freeway so he could fight him. I thought Raymond was too high to drive, so I wouldn't let anyone drive but me. Bukowski kept saying, "I can take you, kid, I will fight you." He was just getting a huge kick out of everything.
I got so distracted I drove off the freeway in the middle of nowhere. I don't know what happened after I got out with Raymond and Dan. We had fortunately left the other kids home being tended by someone.
This was all in the script, just one of many hair raising episodes in the life of Bukowski and Linda King. I felt Linda almost lost her life before she was done, for she did bring the wild man out in Bukowski full force as he brought the wild woman out in her. He has got a poem in there about making love to a panther which is apropos to this romance. Oh he could write, there is no question of that.
And he knew what he was dealing with before he was done. And she had learned full force what he was capable of and what he wasn't, which was controlling the beast in him that alcohol turned loose.
This story should be filmed for no other reason than to show men what alcohol can do to the most magnificent of artists. Linda was not addicted, but she is a fright, too, if she drinks. If I am going to fight Linda I want her sober. She finally had sense enough to bail out of this crazy life, for her kids' sake, to save her sanity, when she could see she did not have the power to break him loose from the monster that has destroyed so many lives, alcohol addiction.


vooman's voice said...

Thank you for you review of our movie script. I didn't know Scott was sending it to you. I guess he sent it to those who ask. It was like pulling teeth to get this script written, even though it might not be completely right yet, at least Scott knows how I want it told. I am ready to let this go for now and maybe he can try and sell it. I hope we'll have some luck. Bukowski and his writing goes on and on. He is amazing how much he was able to say. His many books I am sure will always speak for themselves.
There has been a lot of writing in this family and I have not given up that some of this writing will get to the right places and be notices for it's content.
You are the biggest writer in the family and I follow your blog all the time even though I don't always comment. You are so active with you thoughts on everything. To me they are always interesting...even though I have heard some of the same stories before. This blog gets to a biggers audience. I sometime think it is a shame that your are not a journalist. You are so well read and up on everything.

David Barker said...

Nice piece on Linda King and Charles Bukowski. Thanks for sharing these memories with the world.


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