Apostrophes Videos Online

If you can bloody see them!

Via Google Translate/French to English: The heyday of “Apostrophes” on Babelio.com

The social network of books and readers Babelio.com has partnered with the National Audiovisual Institute (INA) to raise 440 issues of “Apostrophes,” the cult show of Bernard Pivot.

Cavanna putting in place a drunken Bukowski, a legendary “Shut up, Bukowski!” Interview Solzhenitsyn history, or that of Marguerite Duras on “Lover,” all the great moments of the show are available Online says Babelio in a statement.

Sagan, Barthes, Bradbury, Bourdieu, Umberto Eco, Le Clezio, Modiano, Levi-Strauss: Babelio to rediscover these literary giants in those great hours of television.


But when I tried to view the Bukowski video, I got:

I don’t know if that’s a temporary problem or if people outside of the “rights zone” will be prohibited from seeing it.

But, this is The Internet. We don’t need no steenkin’ badges!

Here are two YouTube videos of that infamous Bukowski appearance. The first leads up to the trouble, the second shows his exit.

Update: We don’t need no steenkin’ badges, but apparently we do need links, as the two videos I put here have No Embedding restrictions! So, the links:

Bukowski chez Bernard Pivot (Apostrophe 1978)

Bukowski in Apostrophes

Really, that edition of Apostrophes should have been called When Worlds Collide. Those people simply had no business inviting Bukowski on that program with the expectation that he would somehow be like them. And note that it was not they who rejected Bukowski — he rejected them!

From Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life – the Biography by Howard Sounes:

Apostrophes was a discussion program broadcast on national French television. It was hosted by Bernard Pivot, a well-known personality in France, and had an audience of several millions. The TV company were so eager to have Bukowski on the show that they paid for flights from Los Angeles, for him and Linda Lee, and put them up in a hotel in Paris. Bukowski figured the show would help his European sales, and he and Linda Lee planned a holiday around it, hoping to visit Carl Weissner and Linda Lee’s mother who was staying in the South of France.

Bukowski arrived at the Channel 2 [Antenne 2] building forty-five minutes early. He had stipulated he wanted two bottles of good white wine delivered to him before he went on the show and the first arrived while he was in make-up. He was soon drinking wine from the bottle, and was very drunk indeed when he was led through to meet his fellow guests. These included a distinguished psychiatrist, who had treated Antonin Artaud, and an attractive female author, of what exactly Bukowski was never sure. They were seated round a coffee table on which were arranged several of Bukowski’s books.

Bukowski was the star guest, so Pivot began by asking him how it felt to be fêted in Europe, to be on French television.

‘I know a great many American writers who would like to be on this program now,’ replied Bukowski, speaking even more ponderously than usual. He was puffing on a sher bidi, a type of Indian cigarette Linda Lee had introduced him to. It looked like a joint and smelt awful. He was also obviously drunk, slurring his words and nodding his head. ‘It doesn’t mean so much to me . . .’ he said.

Pivot tried to develop a discussion from this unpromising start, but Bukowski seemed to have trouble following the translation so Pivot turned to the lady writer. After a few minutes Bukowski broke into the conversation, saying he would like to see more of the woman’s legs. More specifically, he wanted to examine her ankles. That way he felt he might know how good a writer she was.

Pivot gave him a withering look and Bukowski told him he was a ‘fucking son of a fucking bitch asshole’ which set the translators an interesting problem as the show was going out live. Pivot fully understood what Bukowski had said. He put his hand over the American’s foul mouth and told him to shut up.

‘Don’t you ever say that to me,’ Bukowski growled.

He pulled the translation device from his ear, rose unsteadily to his feet and turned to leave. Pivot bid him au revoir with a Gallic shrug. The other guests watched in astonishment. Bukowski stumbled momentarily, steadied himself by touching the head of the man next to him, and then tottered off, as the translators and audience rocked with laughter.

They made their way down to the reception area where they were met by police. ‘When Hank saw that, he got this crazy little fiction going in his head, like the enemy is approaching,’ says Linda Lee. He pulled out his blade, a small hunting knife he always carried, and brandished it at them. There was a scuffle, but Linda Lee kept her cool and watched where Bukowski’s hands went. She grabbed his blade from him and then they both got the hell out of there.

The TV appearance was punk-like at a time when punk music and attitudes were fashionable in Europe. (He had been interviewed the day before by a punk journalist who endeared himself to Bukowski by asking for heroin — Bukowski said he wasn’t carrying — and by saying he liked pollution, which Bukowski thought very funny.) Consequently his antics on Apostrophes made headlines in France’s daily newspapers. Some took the view that it was a scandal. Others were of the opinion Bukowski had been a breath of fresh air on an establishment show.

‘You were great, bastard,’ said the excitable journalist who rang from Le Monde. ‘Those others couldn’t masturbate.’

‘What did I do?’ asked Bukowski, his hangover obscuring the events of the previous evening.

‘He didn’t remember anything, of course, but the whole of France was running to book shops to buy his books,’ says Barbet Schroeder [director of Barfly]. ‘In a few hours they were all sold out.’

A couple of days later Bukowski and Linda Lee were in Nice on the French Riviera, visiting Linda Lee’s mother, when a waiter in a café recognized Bukowski and asked for his autograph. He signed obligingly and then glanced across at the neighboring café where he saw five more waiters watching him. When they saw that Bukowski had noticed, the waiters bowed solemnly in unison to show their respect, and then went about their business again. It was a remarkable moment for a man who had spent more than half his life as an unknown writer, a humble postal clerk, but then so many things were new and strange now Bukowski was a success.

Good for him!

3 Comments

Filed under Video, Writer

3 responses to “Apostrophes Videos Online

  1. “embedding disabled on request”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s