On Saturday, July 13, 2013, I hopped onboard the Esotouric bus tour entitled, Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles.” I’ll write more about the tour in the Silver Birch Press BUKOWSKI ANTHOLOGY (available in August 2013), but will offer some highlights in this post.

The hosts, Richard Schave (who wrote the tour) and wife Kim Cooper, are everything you’d wish for in guides: knowledgable, enthusiastic, creative, and, best of all, passionate about their subject — in this case, the Los Angeles of Charles Bukowski.

For the in-depth journey you take in just four hours, this tour — at just $58 — is a super bargain. Plus you get free donuts, coffee, and an $18 coupon good on another Esotouric tour — and they all sound fascinating. I plan to use my coupon before it expires in three months — I hope for the upcoming James M. Cain tour. On all tours, participants are ushered  from place to place in the luxurious, air-conditioned comfort of a large, modern bus.

The Bukowski tour started in downtown L.A., where Buk lived in a range of SROs (Single Room Occupancy buildings), took his meals at Clifton’s Cafeteria (RIP), and worked for 14 years at the U.S. Postal Annex Terminal.


We then traveled to East Hollywood to stand outside the author’s apartment at 5124 De Longpre Avenue  — for which tour guide Richard Shave successfully garnered historic landmark status in 2008, saving the courtyard complex from demolition. After a stop at Buk’s erased residence at 5437 Carlton Way (now “redeveloped” — and not for the better), we headed to Pink Elephant Liquors at Western and Franklin for coffee, donuts, and something stronger if we wished. On the sidewalk, I found a Pabst beer cap, part of the “deck of cards” series with playing card figures on the inside — my find was a 7 of diamonds, a great souvenir of the trip, which I later posed with my copy of Women (photo above right).

After stopping at the Royal Palms, a former SRO in Westlake (MacArthur Park), where Buk lived with his first love Jane, we headed back downtown.

During the tour, while the bus was in motion, the activities remained lively — with Richard and Kim offering background and anecdotes about the next location, reading Buk’s letters (his letter to John Fante brought me to tears) and poetry, showing slides on a monitor of how L.A. looked back in the day, and playing video interviews with Buk, along with related movie clips.


BOTTOM LINE: I give “Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski’s Los Angeles”  my highest and most enthusiastic recommendation — 7 diamonds!  It exceeded all my wildest expectations. Thank you, Richard and Kim.

Photo: Charles Bukowski at his couryard apartment (a small bungalow) at 5437 Carlton Way, Los Angeles, mid-1970s.