I Visited Bukowski’s Grave at Green Hills Cemetery

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Looking down the hill from Bukowski’s grave

On the Fourth of July I was in Rancho Palos Verdes on other business and I had some time to kill, so I swung by Green Hills Cemetery to visit Bukowski’s grave. I haven’t posted on this blog in awhile, as I have been working on the sequel to Palm Avenue, which I am currently calling, “ Actualization.” I thought this might be a good topic to post, since Bukowski is one of my favorite writers, and often wrote novels and stories based in Los Angeles, and “Palm Avenue,” is a Los Angeles book.

I have heard that people visit Bukowski’s grave and pour beers and whisky onto it, and they leave beer and cigarettes as offerings to the late author. I thought how hard could it be to find his grave. There must be bottles all over it. I quickly discovered that Green Hills Cemetery is a big place, and all of the grave stones are flat, so it was not going to be easy to just find it.  I saw a cemetery employee driving a golf cart and I stopped her. “Where is Bukowski’s grave?” I asked. “Hop in, I’ll take you to it,” she gladly said.

I got on the golf cart and she drove me up the hill. I asked her if a lot of people come to visit the grave and she said at least two a week, and from all over the world. She stopped at a hillside and pointed up the hill. “It’s right there where all of those beer bottles are,” she said. I couldn’t see any beer bottles, but acted as if I did. How hard could it be to find? She had pointed me in the general direction, so I thanked her and climbed up the hill looking for the headstone.

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Tuco desperately looks for a headstone

Well, thirty minutes later I still had not found the grave. I felt like Tuco in the final scene of the “Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” There was even mariachi music playing from a funeral happening in another part of the cemetery. I walked up and down rows of headstones and could not see any beer bottles to save my life.  I went further up the hill and ran into a section of the cemetery reserved for infants. I looked at the headstones and many of them had lived only one day. I shuddered at how sad that must be. Bukowski would not be here. There was a family nearby having a picnic on the cemetery grass. I could see the Vincent Thomas bridge in the distance and the Port of Los Angeles.

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The Vincent Thomas Bridge and Port of Los Angeles

Los Angeles Writers Besides Bukowski

  • Raymond Chandler
  • Bret Easton Ellis
  • John O’Brien
  • Walter Mosley
  • Sonny Donato
  • Rob Neighbors

I walked back to the area where the girl had pointed and finally I saw the beer bottles! I thought there would be a whole case, but there were only two Sierra Nevada bottles and one sad can of Modelo, along with some cigarettes. I was expecting to see a whole case. I took a couple of pictures and sat at the grave site a moment and thought of the stories, poems and books I loved by Bukowski. The guy lived a good portion of his life in obscurity and poverty, yet he kept writing, and now people came from all over the world to visit his grave. That is immortality.

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Bukowski’s headstone

The headstone was in the direct sunlight, so I moved further up the hill and sat in the shade and reflected on what it meant to be an author. A car stopped at the bottom of the hill and two tattooed hipsters got out with a map in hand. They started roaming around looking for the grave. “It’s right there,” I said, pointing to the grave. They laughed and thanked me and they stood over it, paying their respects. I was a little resentful, that they showed up and I didn’t have Bukowski all to myself. I bid them farewell and walked back to my car. I texted the pictures of the grave to a friend of mine, and she asked me if I had left an offering. No, I hadn’t and she informed me I would have bad luck. “You took a selfi, but didn’t leave anything,” she said. Good point. I will be returning with a pint of whiskey, a six pack, and pack of smokes for Hank, ASAP.

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Selfi taken at grave but no offering = deep do do!

 

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