:: Article

A small improvement upon the truth, reading Charlene Rubinski

“Bukowski can dish it out, but he couldn’t take it. But you have to forgive that.”


“Alright, it was Adonis who got me out of the candle-shop. I spent a night with him and realized every sexual fantasy I’d ever had. Perfection achieved, I placed a little sign outside my store that said… ‘FREE CANDLES’ and the people crowded in and took them all away.
I watched that crowd work like a greedy mob… I watched feeling like Madame Hortense in Kazanakis’s Zorba The Greek. Adonis did it, damn it… I closed down the business and wrote 2372 poems in the next two months.”

3:AM: I hope you didn’t send him those.

SR: 300 of those were the ones that really wrote THE poem.

3:AM: Yeah, I mean, I saw the 300 poems that you sent him, they were pretty damn good poems, he just…

SR: I didn’t send him 300 poems, I’m not going to send him 300 poems, he sent me about 300 great poems.

3:AM: It was an enormously fruitful time for both of you guys.

SR: We were in our prime, you know.

3:AM: Yeah, so do you want to go back to that world again, the last day of the candle shop and tell me what happened?

SR: Yeah, I was just a…she walked by with another guy and he was leaning on her, you know, and I was…I couldn’t write, while I was making candles. Whatever I was putting into my poems, it shut down when I started making these candles. One of the girls who worked for me there, she said, “Aw, it’s your love. You are putting all your love into the candles, you don’t have any room in there for the poems.” So it was like being schizophrenic. I was like Swiss-cheese, I was making a lot of money, but I was hung up on this…I was really infatuated with this woman, Aphrodite…and I realized, ‘I gotta get out of here, I gotta get back to the typewriter’ but I can’t write because I’ve still got this candle-shop, so I’ll just give ‘em away. I put a little sign out, and the whole neighborhood swarmed in, because they were expensive, 25-30 bucks, all of sudden they are free. And they’re candelabras, and two-thirds of the people came in and they just picked them up and totally broke them, they crushed them, it’s like, crushing a chandelier they wanted them so bad, pure greed. Right out of Nikos Kazantzakis…it was amazing to see, I watched it like a movie.

3:AM: You know, this is very much like a movie, this book. And then it says:

“Charlene brought her son to my shack often and I watched Vincent grow. He would lovingly lean against her shoulder as they say on the couch.”

So then it says: “Charlene brought her son to my shack,” so that would be his daughter, Marina, who was really a lovely girl. She’s in the film by the way, the show, Californication, which is basically about Bukowski. It’s a whole show, it’s on every week.

SR: What is that?

3:AM: It’s called Californication, it’s on, I don’t know, like HBO or something like that. And it’s about Hank, and his wife, and his kid.

SR: Oh, they got a series about Bukowski?

3:AM: Yeah, Yeah, I swear, of course they don’t use his name. It’s about a writer…

SR: Who’s playing him?

3:AM: The guy who was in the X-Files, David Duchovny.

SR: You’re kidding? He’s playing Bukowski? Is it a hit?

3:AM: It is! It was nominated for an Emmy.

SR: How long has it been on?

3:AM: It’s been going a couple of years, I think this is its second year.

SR: I had no idea about it, ‘cause I don’t have a TV.

3:AM: Well, now you do. And you couldn’t see it unless you have cable. We don’t have cable, but every once in a while I’ll go to a hotel and take a look.

SR: It’s amazing. That’s great! Good for Duchovny.

3:AM: I don’t know if they are paying Bukowski Incorporated for it.

SR: Linda would make sure that she was getting something.

3:AM: Could be and there was some guy who wanted to do a show on Bukowski when he was alive and he actually wrote about it, what was his last book?

SR: I don’t know.

3:AM: The one about death?

SR: Was it a novel or poetry?

3:AM: No, it’s a novel.

SR: Pulp is his last…

3:AM: Pulp that’s it.

SR: It was not his best, but you know…

3:AM: Then you’ve got this part where:

“Charlene once telephoned and asked me to write a portrait of her for Second Coming First Press’s ‘Special Edition on Charlene Rubinski.’ […] Charlene then telephoned me to tell me I had ripped her in my written portrait. ‘You ripped me,’ she exactly said over the phone.”

SR: Yeah, he did that. I didn’t understand it, I was calling him the greatest writer in the world by far. I should have asked him, “Where?” but he was sensitive.

3:AM: He was sensitive. Actually it’s funny, because he’s out there doing all this stuff, ripping people up all over the place.

SR: It is the old story: he can dish it out, but he couldn’t take it. But you have to forgive that.

3:AM: To me, I always thought it was an honor to be in his work.

SR: He doesn’t need my forgiveness anyway. [laughing]

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First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, May 11th, 2009.