While gazing last night at repeated depictions of the central character in David Yaghjian’s wonderful new exhibit, “Everyman Turns Six,” I kept thinking that somehow I knew this bald, pot-bellied, middle-aged man who preferred being naked or wearing only his underwear. Everyman is a loose cannon, that’s for sure. He’s the scary neighbor who is sometimes funny, sometimes dangerous. The one you hear talking to himself while he’s unfolding cheap lawn furniture. Tom Waits’ “Buzz Fledderjohn.” Mike Cooley’s “Bob.” No, wait a second. I’ve got it: He’s Charles Bukowski.
Bukowski was the heavy-drinking, womanizing waster who scribbled poems between (and during) sessions in the seediest bars of Los Angeles. He lived in flophouses and flea-bit hotels. His best friends were winos and prostitutes. He was the Everyman of poets. Like Yaghjian’s creation, Bukowski could have easily fired up a leaf blower in the front yard while wearing nothing but his tighty-whiteys. I can hear him now, screaming a verse over the leaf blower to a passing girl on the sidewalk, “Your swagger breaks the Eiffel tower, turns the heads of old newsboys long ago gone sexually to pot; your caged malarky, your idiot’s dance, mugging it, delightful --- don’t ever wash stained underwear or chase your acts of love through neighborhood alleys!” (From “Plea to a Passing Maid,” 1969)
For years, academics have panned Bukowski’s work, but regular folks who like an occasional verse or two, have found his poems honest and refreshing, as well as disgusting and titillating. I’m no art critic, and my association of Bukowski with Everyman is certainly not derived from some deep understanding of Yaghjian’s thought-provoking paintings. The connection was simply triggered by physical similarity and a shared artistic weirdness I sensed from the paintings.
That’s one of the things great art can do: Dust out the back corners of your mind and help you make creative connections you might not have otherwise. “Everyman Turns Six” runs through Sept. 6 at 80808 Gallery in the Vista.
Here’s another (R-rated) Bukowski poem to be going on with, one called “Drunk, ol’ Bukowski, Drunk.”
I hold to the edge of the table with my belly dangling over my belt
and I glare at the lampshade the smoke clearing over North Hollywood
the boys put their muskets down lift high their fish-green beer
as I fall forward off the couch kiss rug hairs like cunt hairs
close as I’ve been in a
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