Screams From the Balcony of Das Kehlsteinhaus?


According to Matthew Fleischer at the LA Weekly, efforts to turn Charles Bukowski's old house into a historic site are being slowed—maybe even derailed—by truly fishy accusations that the half-Jewish author had Nazi sympathies.

Whether the commission believes the charges may be immaterial—it's how much grief its members are willing to put up with. The bungalow's owner, Victoria Gureyeva, says she and her lawyer have no plans to ever allow a cultural monument to Charles Bukowski on her property.

"This man loved Hitler," she insists, citing Pleasants' writing. "He may be a great writer—I'm not a critic. But that's what libraries are for. This is my house, not Bukowski's. I will never allow the city of Los Angeles to turn it into a monument for this man. My grandfather was a Holocaust survivor. I'll bring the whole Jewish Westside into this debate if I have to. Then what will the city of Los Angeles do?"

As for Bukowski's own Jewish roots: "He never acknowledged his Jewish side," Gureyeva argues. "The rumor is that Hitler's mother was part Jewish. Now we have Bukowski—Hitler number two."

Swati Pandey at the LA Times was on this story a little while, but Fleischer's version does some more spelunking into the charges.

The Nazi charges stem from a 2003 article in the Hollywood Investigator by longtime Bukowski acquaintance Ben Pleasants titled "When Bukowski Was a Nazi," which was later expanded into the 2004 biography Visceral Bukowski. Pleasants claims that Bukowski "loved Hitler" and that, as a young man, he wrote several Mein Kampf–inspired stories that were confiscated by the FBI during World War II. But years later, when Bukowski's FBI file was made public, the stories never appeared.

So… it's a straight-up smear, then. (That's almost a shame, as a Bukowski-ized Mein Kampf carries greater belly-laff potential than the Bukowski-does-Peanuts stories.) Slightly more believeable than the anti-semite accusations hurled at the very Jewish Michael Chabon.

NEXT: Juche Justice

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  1. There’s a jewish westside in LA too? i thought that was just New York.

  2. I might say crazy things too if the government told me (i) I could never do anything with my property because a famous dead guy used to live there, and (ii) that no, I won’t be getting any compensation for this restriction on the use of my property.

  3. This is my house, not Bukowski’s.

    Period; The End.

  4. i guess purchasing the house that was listed for sale was out of the question

  5. Buk openly talks about his youthful flirtation with Nazism in Ham on Rye. My feeling is a big so what? as he grew up to become everything Nazi’s would revile. Buk’s great.

  6. Who cares if he hated/loved Hitler…I am more worried about the modern day Nazis in LA who want to take this poor woman’s property rights away from her and give them to a dead man.

  7. Unwilling to let the home of her favorite author become a REAL INVESTMENT without a fight, [Lauren] Everett enlisted Schave’s help to get the building declared a cultural landmark. On September 20, with the backing of the preservationist group Hollywood Heritage, the pair successfully brokered a stay of execution with the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission.

    Fuck Lauren Everett. She didn’t buy it when she had the chance.

    I’ve never read any Charles Bukowski. Should I?

  8. Back in the day, National Lampoon did a series of Silver Surfer parodies as written by famous authors… Salinger, Vonnegut, etc.; the Bukowski parody was hilarious; I had never even read Bukowski, but I knew after reading the Nat’l Lampoon parody that I had to get my hands on his books ASAP.

  9. J sub D
    Depends on what you like, Buk, like most writers, ain’t for everybody. He’s kind of a mix of Crumb, Pekar, Kerouac, and Jack London. I think his best introductory novel is his first titled Post Office. And, many may like his fiction while not being into his poetry and vice versa.

  10. MNG, Guess I’ll check it out of the library. I always liked London and somewhat liked Kerouac.
    FWIW, other than Ogden Nash and Shakespeare, I avoid poetry like the plague.

  11. J sub D: If you want an easy introduction to Buk… go rent Barfly. He wrote it… and since it’s a movie (and a classic), it’s an easy introduction…


  12. If Nazi sympathies are what it takes to keep one more damned square on the earth from being declared holy ground, then let’s lock Godwin away for good.

  13. Barfly is interesting, but trying to understand any writer by first watching a movie they wrote is tough. I mean, do you get a sense of Faulkner’s style from watching To Have and Have Not?

  14. Mr. Nice Guy: That would have probably been a better introduction to me then As I Lay Dying… gods I hate that book… and still dislike most SoC stories because of that man…

    As long as never again in my life will I have to read the chapter:

    “My mother is a fish.”

    I’ll be a happier man.


  15. “I’ve never read any Charles Bukowski. Should I?”

    Despite having a worthless English major and as a result reading a lot of crummy poetry Bukowski’s Bluebird is one of the few poems that I can say “moved” me.

  16. I think he may be a better poet than fiction writer. Barfly is one of my favorite movies ever, and since it’s autobiographical, it is an introduction to Bukowski as a person. Though apparently, he didn’t like Mickey Rourke’s performance because he thought it was too cocky.

    Born Into This is an excellent documentary about him. It really changed my opinion of him. Prior to seeing it, I thought he was pretty much an unmitigated asshole – an impression I got from reading his fiction, not from Barfly. HIs attitudes about women as expressed in his fiction are hard to take.

  17. Having enjoyed much of his fiction and poetry, I looked forward to screening Barfly, but ultimately found it hokey and almost unfair in its depictions. The Chinaski I had in mind was much more stoic and self-contained, Rourke’s imitation did little to separate him from overwrought ‘town drunk’ cliches, I thought.

    Still haven’t seen Born Into This, meaning to.

    How’s Factotum?

  18. I thought Factotum was great, but then one of the things I like about Buk are his stories about his uneasy relationship with work (re: Post Office).

  19. Who is this Bukowski guy? Are you Ernst Rhoem wannabes addicted to obscure Jew baiting among other bad things?

    Don’t you clowns have anything better to do with your time?

  20. I’ll bring the whole Jewish Westside into this debate if I have to.

    That is so gangsta! I’m using that threat the next time my wife and I argue about who’s supposed to fold the laundry.

  21. I’ve never read any Charles Bukowski. Should I?

    Yes; try Pulp. In fact, I think I might read it again, now that I think of it.

  22. This whole idiotic farce is a far more suitable tribute to Bukowski than laminating his old house ever could be. No one would love it more than the great old man himself.

    My favorite Bukowski work is… well, everything he wrote. But my favorite favorite has to be his first novel, POST OFFICE, which I picked off a library shelf, started leafing through, and was so stunned that I sat right there in the library and read the whole thing cover to cover.

  23. Post Office is brilliant, exactly the sort of book you read cover to cover. Ham on Rye, in which the Nazi business is directly addressed, as Mr. Nice Guy says, is maybe marginally better, and definitely more literary. I thought Pulp was the worst Bukowski novel by far, though Hollywood wasn’t up to the standard of Post Office, Women, Factotum, and Ham on Rye, either.

    I would say Bukowski’s novels are similar to Henry Miller’s novels Sexus, Nexus and Plexus, except that Bukowski doesn’t take himself as seriously as Miller, so you don’t have to endure long, boring, half-informed rants about the nobility of blacks, the beauty of India, or the brilliance of Spengler. Also, the sex in Miller is sexy, while the sex in Bukowski is brutish.

  24. Underzog,

    What’s your basis for the “Ernst Rhoem wannabe” schtick? It seems like all you do is show up in threads, call us all Nazis, and leave. Are you still mad because we didn’t want to sign on to your anti-Muslim rewrite of the Bill of Rights?

  25. Barfly was my introduction to Bukowski and I had never heard of him when I saw it. So I had no expectations to be dashed and I thought Rourke was great. However, your criticism about his Chinaski is in keeping with Bukowski’s, I think.

    I’d like to go on record that Faye Dunaway’s performance as Wanda Wilcox is what hooked me. It’s right up there with her performances in Network and Chinatown,. I hate that her contribution to Barfly is so routinely overlooked. I gave up on the Oscars when Cher won for Moonstruck that year and Faye wasn’t even nominated.

    Also, Dunaway’s and Rourke’s interaction in the film is downright brilliant. Siskel and Ebert commented that some of their scenes “are pure poetry.” They also said, with regard to the Oscars, that Dunaway and Rourke “were robbed.”

  26. A Buk poem for free-thinkers and anarchists:

    I Met A Genius.

    Pretty, no?

  27. I’ve never read any Charles Bukowski. Should I?

    Yeah, if you despise humanity and have a persecution complex, you’ll probably relate.

  28. This was a weird post for Reason, why ignore the eminent domain angle? I don’t think theirs a whisper of anti-semitism at Reason, but someone over there has some big hangups about anti-Israel not being anti-Jew (though it’s worth noting that while this is often true, it’s far from always true, especially outside the US), and about exposing allegedly false claims of anti-semitism. Not the typical fodder for a libertarian publication.

    If Chabon’s book really has Jews massacring other Jews then blaming it on non-Jews, it’s kind of understandable why people would think it’s anti-semitic. Maybe he just has a real low opinion of many Jews, but not all Jews. Or maybe he was just trying to comment on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it would be kind of weird to use a metaphor and change everything but the religion of the people and then say it’s not anti-Jew, it’s anti-Israel. Or maybe he just writes what he knows and he knows Jews, but it’s understandable why the author of a book that portrays Jews in such a poor light is suspected of being anti-semitic.

  29. The movie, “Barfly” made my skin crawl. I have read a little of Buk. I guess I am not the literary type; he is OK, better than James Joyce, but who isn’t?

    If my life was like Barfly, then I would have to go ahead and end it.

  30. Maybe the reason you chaps are raising this Jew paranoia non story is that you guys want to take attention off your friend’s Saudi Arabia’s generous gesture of releasing 1500 Al Qaida types to attack the west. Not to mention the alleged Jew paranoia story distracts attention from your Saudi buddies’ lashing of a raped woman 200 times (the number was increased from 90).

    It would be better to blame those Joos or try to antagonize those paranoid Joos than deal with the truly evil countries and creeds in the Middle East and elsewhere.

  31. Barfly is a comedy. It says so on the box.

    >I Met A Genius

    Very nice. It makes me think of Walker Percy, who favored train metaphors and wrote about not enjoying the things we’re supposed to enjoy, while enjoying the things we are not supposed to enjoy. Kinda like finding BF hilarious and poetic, as well.

    I appreciate the reference to BF’s dialogue, though I think it is “distressed” and not “stressed.” I really appreciate the link to his poetry, which gives me a chance to become more familiar with it.

    >>This was a weird post for Reason, why ignore the eminent domain angle?

    I think this is a very good point. I agree it is too bad for the memorial if the woman doesn’t want to give up her property rights.

  32. Why not just name a bar in Bukowski’s honor: Bukowski’s Fly Bar, where all the truly fly guys come to vomit.

  33. Eminent domain is NOT a factor in this situation. Please put that rumor to rest. The city does not use eminent domain to protect historic structures.
    If the owner would actually do some research, she would learn that the nomination can be very beneficial to her through a variety of tax easements, and the historical association, which could allow her to charge higher rents, etc. There are currently no plans and no buyers for this property (nor were there prior), so if anything this may be a blessing is disguise…

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