Charles Bukowski, the patron saint of L.A.’s seedy side, died 20 years ago today, on March 9, 1994, of Leukemia. He was a boozehound who was also sometimes a genius, or a boozehound who was also sometimes an asshole, or, more likely, both. It depends on how you look at it. It depends on which of his poems you happen to be reading. It depends on which parts of his persona you are willing to dismiss.
What’s clear is that the poet, novelist, and screenwriter was an unapologetic alcoholic, and a prolific writer. What Bukowski did not have in money—he was down and out for most of his life—he made up for in ego and drunken chutzpah. A night out in L.A. with Bukowski was guaranteed to be the kind of night you tell stories about 20 years later. And so, marking the 20th anniversary of Bukowski’s death, I reached out to some of Bukowski’s close friends (and ex-girlfriends), who were eager to feed Bukowski’s drunken ghost as he cruises around the city of angels, shouting eight different women’s names at the moon and throwing beer cans at walls.