The Weekly Protest | My Father and Charles Bukowski

In between my shows on Nickelodeon,

my favorite one was the reruns of Kenan and Kel,

my father and I would do yard work together until the sun went down.  

We would hack at overgrown branches and vines with machetes,

even though I was only 9,

and we'd clear brush, and chop wood for fires.


As we'd toil and sweat and scratch up our arms,

my father would tell me stories about his youth, they 

make Bukowski's life sound like the epitome of

privilege.


My father grew up in South Central Los Angeles.

He saw the Watts riots, he watched some Crips drag people off school buses

for beatings. He had a father who was the living example

of why Cheers wasn't a wholesome show, because

hiding from your family in a bar isn't funny in real life.


"If you go to a bar where everyone knows 

your name, you are going there too often."

That is what my father always said.


My father was a bartender in college, he was 

forced to play therapist for the tips and he had to watch

people kill themselves in real-time, one sip at a time.


When I was nine, he gave me "the talk,"

and for some reason, it was here that my father told me

the history of how we got our family name.

It is a tragedy that involves abandonment and theft,

the story of a farmhand and a farmer's daughter,

and forced sterilization,

it set the stage for my grandfather and

his descendants to be treated like the black sheep that we are,

it set a tone for my family's life.


My grandfather died in the 1980s before I was born,

but everyone always tells me how much I look like him.

My father always jokes, "Well, I guess your 

mother is telling the truth when she says you're my son." He usually would say this with one of the cocktails he learned to make as a bartender in hand. He makes them

as fancy as possible, especially whenever he makes one

for mom. Those barflies never knew how good they had it.

Even though my dad was killing them with their sips.


My father was his junior college class vice president.

He taught me everything I know about parliamentary

tedium and Robert's Rules of Order, they have come quite

in handy, especially when I went political. 


He was a mechanic, my father has worked full time since

he was 15 years old. I think retirement feels weird to him.


My shows on Nickelodeon are all nostalgia now,

and I don't do as much yard work since I don't live with him,

but he still tells me stories that would make Bukowski blush.


He was 16 during the summer of love, and I have the

pictures of him in ponchos to prove it.

He lost count of how many hits of acid he took.


He saw Jim Morrison make a drunk ass of himself

and fall off the stage during a failed dive at the Lighthouse

Cafe in Hermosa Beach. My father always compared it

to the opening scene from School of Rock, when Jack

Black's character stupidly dives off the stage

and no one catches him, so he belly flops onto the hard floor.

"It happened just like that," were my father's exact words 

when he saw the movie.


Another time he told me a story that involved roach clips

and hookers, and you should hear the stories that his brothers,

my uncles, have told me about their escapades.

But those are stories for later, because only he can 

tell these stories in a way that does them any justice.


Cut to: Interior, his home, Christmas Eve 2020.

After he finished cook us the prime rib he took

3 hits of his homegrown Kush Mint. He interrupted

my sister and said, "I'm just a placeholder." Like

a stoic drunk from his old bartending days.

The rest of us couldn't help but laugh and tease him about it for the rest of the night. He laughs about it now too.

He just laughs it all off whenever he can.

Bukowski was never as funny as my dad.


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By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 33 exclusive posts
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