(all new in ‘82)
Notes of a Dirty Old Man #5

(excerpts from his original Smoke Signals column)

I was out there again today.  There are some creatures out there, shirttails hanging out, shoes run down, eyes dulled.  Many are there day after day.  How they manage to keep going out there is a mystery.  They are losers.  But somehow they manage to find the entrance fee, somehow they manage to place some feeble bets.  But today I saw the worst.

I had seen him the day before also.  He looked worse than any skid row bum, he had a scabby beard, part of the leather had lifted from his shoes showing parts of his feet – he was barefoot.  He wore a greasy brown overcoat but he had a bit of money, I saw him placing some bets.  He didn’t sit in the stands but on some steps outside the stands and he played a harmonica very badly.  I looked at him: he had on some glasses but one of the eyeglasses had fallen out and the one that remained was a dark black.  As I walked slowly by he started talking to me.  He spoke very rapidly” “Hey, ge out ree hoo nar bah!”

Sentences followed that were of similar order.  I couldn’t imagine this fellow placing a bet or driving and automobile.  But he had a right to.  Who said he couldn’t?  And who said he had to look a certain way?  Or talk a certain way?

Society dictated our modes and ways.  Maybe he was helpless.  I remembered starving in New York City, trying to be a writer.  One night I had gone out and bought a bag of popcorn, it was my first food in several days.  The popcorn was hot and greasy and salty, each kernel was a miracle.  I walked along in a beautiful trance, feeling them in my mouth.  My trance was not entirely complete.  Two large men walked towards me.  They were talking to each other.  As they got closer to me, one of them looked up and just as they passed me he said loudly to his buddy: “Jesus Christ, did you see that.” I was the freak to them, the idiot, the one that didn’t fit the mould.  I walked along then, the kernels not tasting quite so well.

As I passed the man at the race track sitting on the his steps I knew that of us could get lost away from the crowd, some of us even wanted to.  I walked down and found a seat.  The horses broke from the gate.  It was six furlongs but I had a reason for the bet.  My horse broke poorly, rushed up, fell back, I lost sight of him, then as they took the curve again, he was coming from the outside.  He seemed to hang in mid-stretch, then he came on again to win drawing out. They put up the price: $14.60.  I had it ten win.  $73.  I got up to go cash my ticket.  When I did I no longer saw the man sitting on the steps.  I didn’t see him for the rest of the day.  I’ll be looking for him tomorrow.  There’s a good car doing.  Three maiden races.  I love those maiden races.

Charles Bukowski – The late great poet laureate of our lowlife American Dreams.  Original Contributing Editor in our early ‘80s incarnation.  Began new installment of his infamous Notes Of A Dirty Old Man in 1982, with attack on Norman Mailer (coming soon) for his part in the Jack Abbott debacle. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/25/books/review/harrison.html?_r=2&ref=books&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

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Viola and B. Prune

reverently continuing the tradition of
Damon Runyon
WHEN SALLY DETROIT CAME TO NEW YORK to visit her sister and turn over 50 pounds of bay scallops, little did she know that she would fall in love and get the ride of her life. While her baby sister Alice had pursued the dreams of the upwardly mobile, Sal was the wandering gypsy... » »


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