Jason Diamond at Poetry Magazine:
Stepping into Cole’s, one of the oldest restaurant-bars in Los Angeles, and the self-professed inventor of the French Dip sandwich, feels like stepping back in time to 1908, when the saloon first opened. It’s dimly lit inside, there are old wood-paneled walls, and a long bar greets you upon entry. On a quiet afternoon, you eat your sandwich, maybe have a drink or two, and then chances are you’ll eventually hit the restroom. If you’re in the men’s room, you might notice a bronze plaque bolted to the wall near the stalls: “CHARLES BUKOWSKI PISSED HERE.” People love to take pictures of it. On Instagram, it’s nearly as popular as shots of the sandwich that made Cole’s famous. In 2019, Bukowski’s dissolute work and lifestyle—not to mention his well-documented womanizing and racism—would create firestorms were he alive today. Why does he still appeal to so many people?