The Big Lebowski vs. Charles Bukowski

March 2nd, 2015

Perhaps you thought Bukowski and Lebowski were the same person.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

I just want to say at the outset, that I’m not always as smart as I like to think I am. This surely comes as a shock to virtually no one, not the least of whom me. Heck, I don’t even know if I constructed that previous sentence smartly.

But what I do know is that up until today — the beginning of March, 2015 — I confused Charles Bukowski with The Big Lebowski.

Since I’m both a writer and an avid movie fan, my ignorance is even more ridiculous.

You probably all know Charles Bukowski was a German poet and novelist who made Los Angeles his second home. He wasn’t fictional. Time magazine called him “a laureate of American lowlife.”

The Big Lebowski was a Coen Brothers film about a guy who also lived in Los Angeles. Jeff Bridges played the title character, a downtrodden man whom Bukowski may have written about, if he weren’t fictional already.

Maybe you can forgive my confusion. Probably not though.

I have heard references to both Lebowski and Bukowski for many years. I saw the movie in 1998, four years after Bukowski died of leukemia. I just mixed the two up in my brain and apparently wasn’t too curious about by why people were so reverent about the Jeff Bridges character. Obviously they were referring to Bukowski not Lebowski.

Both were cult heroes. Both had alternative lifestyles. Both lived in LA. But there’s one more thing. They both kind of/sort of looked alike.

Granted, that’s no excuse for me being a moron. But I’ll bet I’m not the only one. I just found out there’s a Big Bukowski Facebook page. It mashes the two up. Apparently the similarity isn’t lost on others. But whereas I confused them unintentionally, others riff on the likenesses. There’s even a rapper named Larry David Flow who writes, “Big Lebowski and Charles Bukowski are the reasons I’m not angry when you call me Kowalski.”

I’m trying to do more research on their similarities, but my browser feels a bit let down by me too. It has seemingly joined their downtrodden masses and refuses to follow my search requests.

“Rodney,” it appears to ask, “did you really think all those cultural references over the years were to the Jeff Bridges’ Lebowski role and that there wasn’t someone else they were mentioning?”

My browser is right. I shouldn’t be allowed to continue searching this nonsense, hoping that others were as confused as me. So in lieu of proof, I offer up this very tenuous possibility.

Other people fall into one of three camps:

⚫ Those who are fully aware of two separate individuals, Lebowski and Bukowski.
⚫ Those who have never heard of Bukowski, Lebowski or both.
⚫ Those like me who had them confused.

Here is a pie chart, better illustrating my point.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

12 Responses to “The Big Lebowski vs. Charles Bukowski”

Leave a Reply