Herbert Huncke Reader

Herbert Huncke Reader

Herbert Huncke Reader

The pic is the cover of Herbert Huncke’s book. I was in the Mission Viejo public library bookstore in Southerm California (I only lived a block from there) when I was amazed to find the book. How did this get here? It is apparently some kind of preliminary edition of Huncke’s book, which the publisher must have donated to the library. I bought it for a couple of bucks. I had lost touch and assumed he must have died long ago, and was very disappointed to learn that he had died only a year earlier, and now I was too late.

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5 thoughts on “Herbert Huncke Reader

  1. I find your posts about Heine and Huncke very interesting. I knew them twenty years after you and of course the scene had changed quite a bit. I was not into the recreational drugs and didn’t need to be. I remember when I had a prescription for percocet or hydrocodone, can’t remember which, I told Bill the pills didn’t do much for me. “How many do you take,” he asked. “I take one or two,” I replied. That was the prescribed dose. “Oh,” he said, “you have to take ten.”

    I thought that was pretty funny. If I took ten of anything I’m sure I would have felt something . . .

    I knew Herbert for much longer than Bill–from 1982 till his death in 1996. When I first met him he never used cocaine–we went to bars and had Bloody Mary’s or Vodka and grapefruit juice. Nearly every day, after school, we would have drinks with R’lene Dahlberg at her apartment. It was always fun. Sometimes we would smoke some grass but R’lene wasn’t into that so we stuck to cigarettes–for the nicotine–also quite nice. We did smoke grass when socializing with other people.

    Herbert thought cocaine was a dumb drug, but as he aged into his mid-70s, he used cocaine for energy. And of course, he had his usual prescriptions–and occasionally pills that would come on the scene. He didn’t seem to search anything out–unless he was sick–but pills would be available–people would offer pills to him–and Herbert didn’t believe in saying no. “The pig that I am,” he once said recounting an episode in Chicago, “I said yes.” The next thing he knows he wakes up in an Emergency room with a doctor saying he just saved his life. “Big deal,” Herbert replied. I think he was about 16 at the time.

    He experimented with drugs and although would never advise others to choose his path, he would never deny that he found them interesting. “You’re either very smart, or very lucky,” a doctor said to him after hearing his drug history at 80.

    • Unfortunately in the mid- 60’s there was a kind naïveté in the younger generation, speed was still legal, it’s extreme dangers unknown, acid was new… We all just dug in head first. The older crowd in New York did nothing to discourage this. Actually I’m shocked that Huncke and Heine lived
      so long.

      • I am not sure if they were shocked about living so long or not. I’m not sure they thought much about it. It seemed they always lived in the moment–never seemed to upset one way or the other–that things would work out–the world stream would carry them along. For the most part they were right. Herbert was surrounded by friends till the end and Heine as well although I wasn’t living in New York then–and Bill began to slide in and out of freshness after Anne died–if I phoned he might mistake me for someone he played music with–always wanted visitors–come up and play. He had care-givers at the end who I didn’t know and Anne’s daughter helped him–as did a geriatric social worker. What it all came down to his spirit–and Herbert’s as well–was transformative to the new people in their life–and in Bill’s case, if he was playing music with Parker or for the night nurse–it made no difference. He enjoyed the company he kept and who came through the door was less important than the aliveness he would bring to their table–and theirs to him. Both were very accepting to change and met change with dignity and humor–carrying others with them along the way. Not unlike how you knew them in the 60s.

  2. The sixties hippies used to say “we won’t live to be 30” We’ll I lived o my 60’s, pretty good, but I may not make it to my 70’s. But perhaps that is not due to the excesses of the 60’s…Huncke and Heine had a few more excesses than I did, and they survived. My mystery diagnosis, my immune dysfunction, I may well have been born with..
    I keep going back to the Obituary article, looking at the picture of Heine. he looks good in middle age,I wish I was there. I wish I had known Ann, knew what she looked like. She stayed with Bill a long time, bless her. I was thinking about why I didn’t look up old friends….I was clean and sober, in AA from 1983…I guess I was afraid to see any old friends. well pardon me if I kick my ass a few blocks, for not thinking they could be clean too.

    • I can send you some better photos of Bill and Anne. And maybe some video. I can’t attach anything here, as far as I know.

      Bill and Anne went into the Buddhist monastery around 83. The head monk allowed him to keep a 5gal milk can, just off the property in the woods, full of beer. They both used to come and stay with me in New York after Herbert died in 96. That is when I got to know him better. He wasn’t living in the monastery then but they were living close by and were in constant touch with the Lama there. He was very close to it all–but when he visited we drank and smoked grass–as near as I can tell–and if there was anything else available–which there wasn’t–I’m sure Bill would have found a way to use it with charm and ease. So, he was clean and sober–generally. I can not remember any excessive drinking–although once or twice, maybe we had drank a lot. Can’t remember. Have to go to the video tape–look to see what I recorded.

      Huncke used till the end. Everything and anything that came along. He didn’t seem impacted by it. One way or the other.

      Let me know address to send better photos of Bill . . . at least I think they are better. Maybe I can do it via facebook.

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