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Bukowski’s (all new in ‘82) NOTES OF A DIRTY OLD MAN #4 (excerpts from his original Smoke Signals column)

Well, so Mailer and his cohorts got him (Jack Abbott) out; he was a writer, there was a book, I haven’t read it all – all I know is what I read in the papers while I’m crapping. So, as you know, the writer put the knife to a waiter, “wasting him” as the boys in my time used to say. Which was not good for Mailer either. All right, here we have two writers and a waiter. Now we have two writers. Which brings something to this ribbon which is spinning now before me: a man can be a good writer without being good at anything else; in fact, he can be pretty bad at everything else and usually is. Of course, there are people who are pretty bad at everything else and they can’t write either. I might get to reading in The Belly of the Beast” one of these days. I never could get through “The Naked and the Dead”, feeling I was too close a feed-off on Hemingway. But N. Mailer is an excellent journalist, and while not fit to sit on a parole board, he did what he felt he had to do. So did the other writer.

I remember 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 the kernels enter my body, feeling them in my mouth. My trance was not entirely complete. Two large men walked toward 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 who didn’t fit the mould. I walked along then, the kernels not tasting quite so well.

I loved solitude. Still do. I grow when I am alone. People diminish me. Especially men, they seem quite unoriginal. Women, at times, are useful. Also they are funny and tragic. But too many continued hours and days with them leads to madness.

There must be others like me. I always seem to be living with a woman and one acts differently then out of courtesy. But in my in between times of living alone I had my little delicacies. Like, I’d simply take the phone off the hook, disconnect the doorbell, pull down all the shades and go to ed for 3 or 4 days and nights, just arising now and then to do my toilet, drink water, nibble on a bit of food. These times were precious to me, holy. I was like a battery getting a recharge – off of myself and the absence of humanity.

I have never been lonely. I have been confused, depressed, insane, suicidal, but never lonely in the sense that some person or persons might solve something for me. I never had a television set until I was 52 years old. And I only saw one movie in 20 years – The Lost Weekend. I went to check it out for authenticity.
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