Hank Beukema

by Horror Sleaze Trash on May 16, 2012

Horror Sleaze and Trash find Hank Beukema and drag up the addictive past, present and Bi polar bears.  This is one interview not to miss and i’m pretty stoked to have got a chance to speak with the fella my self.  Enjoy the read ~ Ben John Smith



HST: Damn fine to catch you Hank, it’s a real treat, let’s star off with you telling me a little about Rev J Alfred Buckman?

HB: Yes, Dear Rev Buckman. Along with Ralph [the Hudson River BiPolar bear], the two other sides of my self that make up the me I’ve come to love and hate, alternatively. Rev Buckman started in the Nineties when the late Hollywood artist Hugh O’Mara was working on a series of paintings about an imaginary village that was part fantasy, part science fiction and part western. He had a saloon and a newspaper and it seemed ripe for a preacher that was not so holy. Being the son of a wonderful preacher, but with a life of drug addiction and alcoholism, it seemed that without breaking a sweat I could create a character with a “heart o gold and a head full o sin.” I went on to use Buckman and Ralph in music reviews, short stories and a labor of love, on the Mickey Newbury website [with other writers], that has gone on for nine years, as The Nightly Vigil. Rev Buckman would sit in the dark in the back of a saloon making comments about darkness and sin and redemption while swigging his whiskey and visiting with the dance hall girls. There are still friends that call me Rev. Over the last five sober years, I have decided that the Rev represented the drink and drug addled side of me and, of course, all of that personality still exists but it is channeled and fed in other ways now.

HST: Loud and clear dude, Did/Does it help to be more open when writing under a pseudonym.

HB: No, I don’t think so, not for me. Since I have never finished a book or been published a huge amount, until My Space and Facebook most of what I wrote was read by people that knew me or got the Rev deal from the start. I never had much of a problem hanging my grief out on the line or saying what I felt deep down. I have been told that I have a knack for expressing complicated feeling in a simple, honest direct way and have never been shy or embarrassed to be open that most of what I write really happened or was true in one way or another.

HST: When you speak of the bad old days, how bad actually were they?

Some of the old days were fine, like the years I hitchhiked across America five times in three years. The early years with a fine wife and son. The years with my late girfriend. But they were all tinged and colored with my addictions and passions. Went to work, had a family and proceeded to spend much of the next years in a fast rush towards an early grave. I burned with passion and destruction and left some years and people in the wake. My only son died at my feet at eighteen years old and I left my wife for a wonderful lady that died of cancer after twelve years together. After those times,
I had a reason and an excuse to bury my grief and I escalated my desire to be numb into pills and harder drugs. I always kept a good job, but sometimes now wonder how. Yeah, they were bad old days.

HST: Perhaps through all the tussle, there has to be a good story out of em though right?

HB: Well, yes, of course. There are stories about the road and the fast life that I tell people that know me that I have never even written about yet. There are many tales to tell and the longer I live and the older I get the more they fade, so I better get to it soon if I want to preserve them.

HST: You seem to have stayed away from the whole “bukowski” debate, what’s your feelings on old Buk?

HB: I am almost totally ignorant of Mr Bukowski having read all of Kerouac and Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg and the like, but otherwise, mainly read other writers I know personally or online and keep a constant supply of my favorite reading, mystery novels in the vein of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and the writers they spawned.

I DO love The Laughing Heart by Bukowski.

HST: Your passion for music is explosive – best memories/happenings to the scene in your eyes?

HB: This answer could literally go on forever. I have been lucky enough to hear and get to meet so many singer/songwriters that I have loved. The early days of Springsteen [who recorded his first albums in this area of New York] were magical. Got to spend a few hours with Townes Van Zandt a few months before he died. Got to know Rick Danko of The Band and Livingston Taylor over the years. Have talked with Graham Parker and Jesse Winchester, Eric Anderson, Mitch Ryder, Jim Messina, Eric Burdon, Kris Kristofferson and many others. Got to spend time with many jazz musicians also and I treasure the memory of having a drink with the late, great Chet Baker in 1978. Stan Getz, Art Farmer and Ted Curson were always wonderful players and true gentlemen.

HST: Woah, thats a pretty rock n roll line up.  Obviously there is a difference about page poetry and performance, but which do you prefer, both as the artist and an audience.

HB: I love to read and not so much to listen. And yes, there is such a difference. If a person writes for the performance it should be for the ears, for the audience to hear the story or poem in the writer’s voice and turn it into the movie in each of their heads. But, so many writers don’t have the voice or the diction or rhythm to please the ear so it doesn’t always work the way it would have on the page. With the written word, the voice in the head is the readers and the movie is narrated by them in the voice they choose. I only perform rarely and only get to listen  when a faraway friend comes to town. I grew up as a trumpet player and when I do perform at readings I am reminded of how much I love it and the desire to share what comes out of my heart with an audience. I have never been part of any scene or movement and that probably is because I am outside of a big city and because, in my sober years prefer a quiet night at home over a night out.

HST: Have you seen Cormac McCarthy’s film adaptation of “The Road?”

HB: I have loved Cormac McCarthy’s work from the beginning and have read most of his books but have not seen the movie yet. I did see No Country for Old Men and loved it as I did Viggo and Ed Harris’s adaption of Robert B Parker’s Appaloosa.

HST: Is there a metaphor behind the infamous Polar Bear in your works?

HB: Ralph [always shown with brackets and described as the Hudson River BiPolar Bear] was an out and out whiskey swiller, but also, like the Rev afflicted with a heart of gold and a head full of
sin. Hmm, what a surprise…. In a phone conversation in 2000 with one of my heroes, the late Hall of Fame songwriter Mickey Newbury, we talked about having bipolar personalities, although, as far as I know, neither of us had ever seen a doctor. Mickey suggested the this Ralph I had been using in my writings at the time could be a BIpolar bear and I liked that. Ralph was a good foil to talk to when I would do a music essay or talk about anything that he could chime in with irritating comments or opinions. I think in the last few years, there has been very little of Ralph and the Rev only shows up when I feel like writing a Nightly Vigil, which is rare. These days I mostly write rhyming poems that are really song lyrics in my head, but don’t much care if they ever have a melody or not. Recently I have decided to record and share some of them and, I suppose, that is what led to this.

HST: Quoting an excerpt from She came upstairs – “Eighty two and nothing left to do. Did he have regrets?” – any regrets Hank?

HB: That was a piece about my mom and dad, who are still living and are my best friends. They have stuck with me through death and disappointments and never given up on me. My dad had some tough years with cancer and that piece was about him and mom on a morning looking at the beautiful Hudson River that is so often my muse. Me? Yes, I have regrets. You can’t make the mistakes I have made without them and although I am still not the sharpest knife in the drawer, I do know that regrets don’t have to kill you if you can face them and at least make some attempt to forgive yourself and others and keep moving forward, always forward. The past can be used to fill the writing, but it cannot continue to haunt, taunt or make you into the same person that made the mistakes the first time… Otherwise, what have you learned? Jeez, Ben, this is the most introspection I have done since mescaline in the Seventies.

HST: Hahaha, if you where laying on a chair i could charge by the hour, or maybe we just stick to the Mescaline.   Its a pleasure, cheers mate.

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