Watch “Beer,” a Mind-Warping Animation of Charles Bukowski’s 1971 Poem Honoring His Favorite Drink

Charles Bukows­ki could real­ly write. Charles Bukows­ki could real­ly drink. These two facts, sure­ly the best-known ones about the “lowlife lau­re­ate” of a poet and author of such nov­els as Post Office and Ham on Rye (as well as what we might call his lifestyle col­umn, “Notes of a Dirty Old Man”), go togeth­er. Drink­ing pro­vid­ed enough of the sub­ject mat­ter of his prose and verse — and, in life, enough of the fuel for the exis­tence he observed on the page with such rough-edged evoca­tive artistry — that we can hard­ly imag­ine Bukowski’s writ­ing with­out his drink­ing, or his drink­ing with­out his writ­ing.

We would nat­u­ral­ly expect him, then, to have writ­ten an ode to beer, one of his drinks of choice. “Beer,” which appeared in Bukowski’s 1971 poet­ry col­lec­tion Love Is a Dog from Hell, pays trib­ute to the count­less bot­tles the man drank “while wait­ing for things to get bet­ter,” “after splits with women,” “wait­ing for the phone to ring,” “wait­ing for the sounds of foot­steps.”

The female, he writes, knows not to con­sume beer to excess in the male man­ner, as “she knows its bad for the fig­ure.” But Bukows­ki, fig­ure be damned, finds in this most work­ing-class of all drinks a kind of solace.

“Beer” comes to life in the ani­ma­tion above by NERDO. “The com­po­si­tion is a man­i­festo of the author’s way of life, this is why we decid­ed to go inside the author’s mind, and it is not a safe jour­ney,” say the accom­pa­ny­ing notes. “A brain solo with­out fil­ter, a tale of ordi­nary mad­ness, show­ing how much lone­li­ness and deca­dence can be hid­den inside a genius mind.” This wild ride pass­es what we now rec­og­nize as many visu­al sig­ni­fiers of the Bukowskian expe­ri­ence: neon signs, cig­a­rettes, decay­ing city blocks, tawdry Polaroids — and, of course, beer, lit­er­al­ly “rivers and seas of beer,” which no less a fel­low ani­mat­ed enthu­si­ast of the bev­er­age than Homer Simp­son once, just as elo­quent­ly, pro­nounced “the cause of, and solu­tion to, all of life’s prob­lems.”

“Beer” will be added to our col­lec­tion, 1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Four Charles Bukows­ki Poems Ani­mat­ed

Tom Waits Reads Two Charles Bukows­ki Poems, “The Laugh­ing Heart” and “Nir­vana”

Hear 130 Min­utes of Charles Bukowski’s First-Ever Record­ed Read­ings (1968)

Charles Bukows­ki Rails Against 9‑to‑5 Jobs in a Bru­tal­ly Hon­est Let­ter (1986)

“Notes from a Dirty Old Man”: Charles Bukowski’s Lost Car­toons from the 60s and 70s

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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