Early life[ edit ] Born in Greenfield, Massachusetts , and reared in Chicago , Herbert Huncke was a street hustler, high school dropout and drug user. He left Chicago as a teenager after his parents divorced and began living as a hobo , jumping trains throughout the United States and bonding with other vagrants through shared destitution and common experience. Although Huncke later came to regret his loss of family ties, in his autobiography , Guilty of Everything, he states that his lengthy jail sentences were a partial result of his lack of family support. He was dropped off at rd and Broadway , and he asked the driver how to find 42nd Street. For the next 10 years, Huncke was a 42nd Street regular and became known as the "Mayor of 42nd Street.
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Edit Born in Greenfield, Massachusetts and reared in Chicago , Herbert Huncke was a street hustler, high school dropout and drug user. Although Huncke later came to regret his loss of family ties, in his autobiography, Guilty of Everything, he states that his lengthy jail sentences were a partial result of his lack of family support.
Huncke left Chicago as a teenager after his parents divorced. He was dropped off at rd and Broadway, and he asked the driver how to find 42nd Street. For the next 10 years, Huncke was a 42nd Street regular and became known as the "Mayor of 42nd Street. He landed on the beach of Normandy 3 days after the invasion. Aboard ships, Huncke would overcome his drug addiction or maintain it with morphine syrettes supplied by the ship medic.
When he returned to New York, he returned to 42nd Street. It was after such a trip where he met then-unknown William S. Burroughs , who was selling a sub-machine gun and a box of syrettes. Burroughs later wrote a fictionalized account of the meeting in his debut novel, Junkie: Waves of hostility and suspicion flowed out from his large brown eyes like some sort of television broadcast.
The effect was almost like a physical impact. The man was small and very thin, his neck loose in the collar of his shirt. His complexion faded from brown to a mottled yellow, and pancake make-up had been heavily applied in an attempt to conceal a skin eruption. His mouth was drawn down at the corners in a grimace of petulant annoyance. In the late s he was invited to Texas to grow marijuana on the Burroughs farm. It was here he renewed his acquaintance with the young Abe Green, a fellow train jumper and much later on in the early beatnik scene, a regular reciter of his own enigmatic brand of spontaneous poetry.
Despite his comparative youth, Green was often referred to by Hunke as "Old Faithful". Hunke valued loyalty and it is thought that Abe Green was of "inestimable assistance" to Lucien Carr and Jack Kerouac when it came to the concealment of the weapon used to murder David Kammerer some years later.
He was interviewed by Kinsey, and recruited fellow addicts and friends to participate. Huncke had been a writer, unpublished, since his days in Chicago and gravitated toward literary types and musicians.
In the music world, Huncke visited all the jazz clubs and associated with Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon with whom he was once busted on 42nd Street for breaking into a parked car. They were inspired by his stories of 42nd Street life, his criminal past, his street slang. Just out of jail. Tortured by sidewalks, starved for sex and companionship, open to anything, ready to introduce a new world with a shrug.
Although Huncke was not at the scene of the crime, he was arrested in Manhattan because he resided with Ginsberg, and he received a lengthy prison sentence. Writing career Edit Huncke was a natural storyteller, a unique character with a paradoxically honest take on life.
Huncke used the word "Beat" to describe someone living with no money and few prospects. Huncke coined the phrase in a conversation with Jack Kerouac, who was interested in how their generation would be remembered. Kerouac used the term to describe an entire generation. Jack Kerouac later insisted that "Beat" was derived from beatification, to be supremely happy.
However, it is thought that this definition was a defense of the beat way of life, which was frowned upon and offended many American sensibilities.
Although Huncke might be a man devoid of much common sense and stability, he makes up for it plenty by being one hell of a charming storyteller - a raconteur - as some have called him. Are we to trust this as a reliable account of his life? The best parts of the book was when Huncke talked about his relationship with Janine Pommy-Vega and Elise Cowen, a woman who was in love with Ginsberg and who later committed suicide. But Huncke has his own unique place among the beats, a character and someone known about through the writings of others rather than through his own writing. Highly recommended for beat fans. It is fully of honesty. Dig it!
Guilty of Everything: The Autobiography of Herbert Huncke