Crime and Charles Bukowski


Hard Rain, off and on all day, 30-foot seas offshore and the longline fleet is waiting to set their gear to begin the black cod season.  Soon people will be cutting black cod collars in town and soon the barbecues will be heating up.

Trial is over, our client was convicted. The charge was a misdemeanor assault and frankly no one was shocked at the verdict, including our client.  The case involved a late night brawl out in front of a local bar, some serious injuries.  Our client ended up hugging his victim in the hall of the court house.  There will be years of medical bills, which will need to be paid, and alcohol programs to go through, and the imperfect system grinds its way slowly on.  

I've been thinking about how I can write about my job on this blog and it really seems that I can't.  I owe my clients absolute confidentiality. The trial and its verdict, what happened in the hall was public, but if I try to change names and fictionalize characters, the contemporaneous aspect of a blog might lead some of my clients to believe I was writing about them even if I never intended to.  So,  I'm going to stay away from any of the day-to-day real crime stories from my job.  It's too bad because I learn so many things.  

I started out working a murder case back in 1984,  for many years I had a minor specialty of crimes on boats.  I worked several homicides on fishing boats.  I have worked several full time stints for the Public Defender Agency and have been hired away by private attorneys for cases.   I worked for DEC as an Environmental Crimes Investigator when we lived in Fairbanks when Jan was going to graduate school.  I covered the North Slope and I carried a badge, the only time in my life.  

Mostly I've defended people whose life has been blown to shreds by alcohol and/or drugs.  I've sat in countless cells with men mostly, but several women... and tried to help them piece their memories back together after they have done unspeakable things to people they loved.  Alcohol and impulse...access to guns.  Trying to put their lives back to the twisted "normalcy" that their childhood had been.  People, who to everyone else seem to be afraid of happiness and health and are drawn to despair. These are often the people that I serve,  that I work for.  

There was a good article in the Los Angeles Times today about Charles Bukowski, the poet immortalized by the film Barfly, and often considered the Bard of the Gutter.  Find it here:

Many young men of a certain temperament fall under the sway of Bukowski  their first year of college. I was of that temperament: down with the working class but with a sensitivity and erudition that kept me heartbreakingly apart.  Of course for me it was a pose, for Bukowski it was his life,  imposed on him by tough circumstances and then ironically embraced when it brought him fame, booze, a house, women, and open access to a ready publisher.

He has published so much, and so much of it is good,  but so much of it is the same.  Much of his work contains the boozy narcissism of the alcoholic genius stewing in his own juices: He is smarter and more sensitive than all those smooth skinned bastards who hurt him in the past. Fuck them. Stay with me and hear me ruminate on the death of our sick culture's minor gods.   

His achievement is that he has dialed his drunken ranting into poetry that fits into the western canon and he made it understandable...a few degrees to the right or left and he would be talking another kind of gibberish (alien abductions or black helicopter conspiracies) like the guy on the next bar stool.  What he did is a miracle really, as if he possessed some kind of microphone that filtered out insanity.  Because he clearly came from that place...a festering breeding-ground of craziness.  

So many people reach the same place and only have the strength left to pull the trigger. 


Hard rain all day long

not even the dogs go out

for more than a piss. 


jhs--Sitka, Alaska