The above photo of Charles Bukowski on French TV, snapped by the Sophie Bassouls, is everything that we’ve come to expect of the so-called “laureate of American lowlife.” Yet for me, the image does not call to mind a scene from one of Bukowski’s stories or poems, but rather the wisdom of a less-noted public intellectual: Ozzy Osbourne. For it is Ozzy who, in his VHI “Behind the Music” episode, best summarized the feedback loop that keeps otherwise intelligent celebrities on the path to self-destruction:
If you went to your job in an evening dress with a Nazi hat on, drunk as a skunk, they’d say, “What are you doing, man?” But if I turn up [like that], they go, “Ah, should be a good night tonight, Ozzy’s up it tonight!”
This is the line I always think of when another talented artist falls into an early grave due to drugs or drink. How can we be terribly surprised when we offer them our warmest adulation for being their most bonkers?
(Image via Everyday I Show)