From P-Town: Life is Hard, but Bukowski is Harder

1. Bartender Mike Wyant, with my first drink. 2. Nice Bukowski fans: Brad and Michele.

The Mission Theater hosted a Bukowski Birthday tribute last night. Organized by Nico Bella, who founded The First Rule of Book Club, which basically gets you to read the book (Hollywood), watch the movie (Barfly), and pay for beer.

This was an event, not a book club meeting, so I’m guessing most people didn’t read the book. But that would make it too much like my book club, so maybe everyone read the book but me. The book club book, Hollywood, was based on Bukowski’s experience writing the screenplay for Barfly. I plan to read it right after I finish reading my book club book, especially if there’s a Kindle version.

I arrived like a drunk: too early, alone, and with cash, so I watched people wait and called a friend until I was twenty minutes late. There were no seats at the bar because The Mission Theater is a brew and view. I will have to wait to fulfill my need to watch Barfly from the bar, but I have seen Apocalypse Now projected on the side of a house so I’m not going to cry about it.

Everyone was really nice. Not too nice, but friendly. I guess we all agreed that we had something in common before we arrived — Bukowski — so I was looking for a little attitude. And I found it, but only a little.

The night was right for bromance, but it was truly a mixed crowd with some single ladies holding down a few tables. Laughs and line yells during Barfly definitely hinted that a hardened group of Bukowski fans were in attendance.

Bella made up for the gap in programming due to some writer cancellations by reading “Bluebird” and a few excerpts from Hollywood, which made me wonder if was kind of like Money by Martin Amis, except without the British stuff.

Why was everyone so nice? Okay, people from Portland are usually nice, but Bukowski has a way of making you feel like an asshole. Watch a few takes from Born into This, like we did, and you’ll be nice too, even if you are usually kind of an asshole.


— Judith Ossello currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Find her at

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