Bukowski in the Bathtub
“Bukowski In The Bathtub” – Third Edition
Recollection of Charles Bukowski by JOHN THOMAS
Collected and Edited by PHILOMENE LONG
Check out Philomene’s website at www.philomenelong.com
Release date August 17th, 2014 at Beyond Baroque, Venice, CA
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Available from Raven Productions Press
Philomene Long is an internationally published Beat poet and film director. Her films include: “The Beats: An Existential Comedy” with Allen Ginsberg and “The California Missions” with Martin Sheen. About Bukowski in the Bathtub she says, “This book is a mind movie: conversations about conversations; remembrances of things past; weaving past and present. Its images are high contrast black and white, as in film noir (Charles Bukowski’s favorite genre). Bukowski in the Bathtub is cinema verite on the page.”
Bukowski in the Bathtub is a portrait of Charles Bukowski by Beat Poet John Thomas. He was an intimate friend of Charles Bukowski between the years of 1965 through 1971. This book is based on the Thomas / Bukowski visits and conversations during that period. Of John Thomas, Charles Bukowski has said, “…he made a place when / there was no place / a place to go when all / was closing in… he lent the easy / saving / natural grace…” (Excerpt from “strong man”, a poem about John Thomas printed in Black Ace / Temple of Man).
Chapter 9 – HOUSEHOLD REMEDIES
John: Bukowski’s first time on marijuana makes a pretty funny story. It was the first time he bought a lid. Actually in those days it was a lid. A Prince Albert tobacco tin with a hinged lid. It would hold about an ounce of marijuana.
He’d smoked it before, or so he said. And he had surely smoked it a few times at my place. But he had never bought any. So I guess he won some money at the race track and spent ten dollars for an ounce of pretty good grass. If I recall, it was something called “garbage grass”, because it would lay a smell on your fingers like you had been handling garbage. And for the period, anyway, it was pretty powerful.
Philomene: What’s so interesting about that?
John: Wait. So, he took his lid home with him and came back a day or so later asking what’s goin’ on? I said, “What do you mean? What are you talking about?” He said that he took the grass home I sold him and was there all by himself going to get a real good high. The first thing he did was take a bath.
Philomene: Of course.
John: I said, “You’re always taking fucking baths.” He said that he wanted to get all clean and virgin and pristine. So he got out of the bathtub and dried himself off and put on clean under shorts and a brand new white T-shirt…
Philomene: Now it’s getting interesting.
John: He was sort of grousing. He said that he went into the living room, got some cigarette papers, opened up his new lid of grass and rolled a great big joint. His big bomber was all lumpy. Anyway he laid down on his back on the rug and lit his joint and lay there puffing on it, looking at the ceiling. Then, Jesus, it was like fireworks! There were all these fucking little explosions! Sparks kept dropping down and burning holes all over his brand new T-shirt.
Philomene: So those were real sparks.
John: Yeah. Real sparks. Wrecked his T-shirt! Some of the sparks even burned through and burned little blisters on his chest.
Philomene: And you said?
John: I said, “Hank, you got to clean that shit.” He said something to the effect of what do you mean? I cleaned me. Was I supposed to give the marijuana a bath, too?
Philomene: I’m waiting for the funny part.
John: I said, “Hank, that stuff is full of twigs and seeds. You’ve got to take those out. That was marijuana seeds burning holes in your T-shirt.” He said that it was a beautiful T-shirt and after this he was not going to buy anything from me but LSD.
Philomene: I’m still waiting.
John: He said that my LSD would make me miserable but at least it won’t make a bonfire out of his T-shirt. That’s all for now.
Philomene: That’s it?
John: And the LSD did make him miserable. I had turned him on to his first acid a month or so before.
Philomene: You were turning him on to everything?
John: Well, now, the LSD was very good stuff. I didn’t want to waste it on him. So when he first came over that night I gave him some DMT.
Philomene: Oh, my God!
John: The Reader’s Digest trip. So called because it will knock you on your ass, but it will only last twenty, twenty-five minutes. Then you’re straight again. But for twenty-five minutes or so it will knock you on your ass.
Philomene: Did he take a bath to prepare for that one?
John: No. He wanted me over to watch him.
Philomene: Isn’t DMT the elephant tranquilizer?
John: DMT is the alkaloid in ayahuasca. Or some people call it yage.
Philomene: Ah, yes, The Yage Letters…Burroughs.
John: Extra strong, extra quick. In fact, these days people are calling it “the Yuppies’ lunch hour high.” So, it’s a liquid, and you soak it into mint leaves. Then you put a pinch or two of the saturated mint leaves into one of those little brass opium pipes and light it.
Philomene: Then everything, probably even this story, is funny after that, right?
John: The stuff I had, anyway. You wanted to be sure you were sitting down with your back against something before you lit it up. I’ve seen people split their scalps wide open, falling from a standing position, falling straight back on a wooden floor.
Philomene: Everyone was taking anything they could get those days.
John: Some were taking up their valuable time preparing and smoking dried banana peels, and even imagining they were high.
Philomene: Household remedies. Drinking cough medicine because it was loaded with codeine. Morning glory seeds, magic mushrooms…
John: Scotch broom.
Philomene: People thought you could take aspirin and Coca Cola and get high.
John: We used to make beer out of Wonder Bread.
Philomene: Are you serious?
John: Yeah. You needed a bunch of loaves of Wonder Bread and a metal pipe. You’d jam the pipe full of Wonder Bread, then slowly pour warm water down through it. The water would turn a pale, pale yellow: you’d be pulling sugar out of there and flour and yeast. Then you’d take that pale, pale yellow stuff and pour it through again and again. Finally it would start to foam and you could add a little sugar and seal it and bury it—so if it exploded it wouldn’t hurt anybody. When I was really young, I remember smoking pretzel sticks.
Philomene: I remember it was etiquette, a simple common courtesy to turn the cats on.
John: I remember watching someone smoking kitty litter.
Philomene: Why was everyone using, do you think?
John: Aside from the element of fashion, if you can’t change the world outside, change it inside.
Philomene: Many of their insides turned into corpses.
John: Back to Hank and the DMT. I loaded the little pipe, gave it to Hank and held a match over the bowl. And he huffed it all. Nothing happened.
Philomene: Uh oh. That’s a bad sign.
John: He didn’t even hyperventilate, and you usually hyperventilate on …
John: DMT. He just kept talking about his most recent horse race betting system. Nothing. Half an hour later I gave him another hit. After five hits I gave up on him and he got the big stuff, the LSD.
Philomene: Were you trying to kill him!
John: The other stuff should have gone through his system by then.
Philomene: Your system.
John: In about twenty minutes he stopped talking about horse racing and started shivering and began to talk about his abdomen. Wagging his head, he was asking what was that stuff. I said, “What’s the matter?” He said that he had gotten a lump of ice in his stomach the size of a bowling ball. And it was sort of jiggling around down there. The next thing he said, and he said it again and again over the next six hours that a man who can rule his stomach can rule the world. He never asked for LSD again.
Philomene: That’s a good one—who can rule the stomach…. But I would add the tongue.
John: He drove home late the next morning, went straight to his bathtub and sat in it for eight hours.
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Bukowski in the Bathtub
Copyright ©1997 (first printing); ©1997 (second printing); and ©2014 (revised third printing) Philomene Long and John Thomas. Copyright applies to all materials in this book, including but not limited to: poetry, prose, photographs and graphics.
All rights reserved.
Cover Design and Art: Pegarty Long
Back cover photograph of Philomene Long by Allen Ginsberg
Book typesetting by Jerry Bernard – DSJ Printing, Inc., Santa Monica, California
Printed in the United States of America
Published by Pegarty Long / Raven Productions™
First Printing: 1997; Second printing: 1997; Third printing: 2014