Morning name: Herbert Huncke

As usual, I have no idea why the name was in my head when I woke up, though it is Huncke’s centennial year:


Yes, a celebration of the archetypical outsider and outlaw. But now there’s a blog devoted to him, here.

Some highlights, from Wikipedia:

Herbert Edwin Huncke (January 9, 1915 – August 8, 1996) was a writer and poet, and active participant in a number of emerging cultural, social and aesthetic movements of the 20th century in America. He was a member of the Beat Generation and is reputed to have coined the term.

Born in Greenfield, Massachusetts and reared in Chicago, Herbert Huncke was a street hustler, high school dropout and drug user. Huncke’s life was centered around living as a hobo, jumping trains across the vast expanse of the United States, bonding through a shared destitution and camaraderie with other vagrants…

[Starting in 1939], Huncke’s regular haunts were 42nd Street and Times Square, where he associated with a variety of people, including prostitutes (both male and female) and sailors.

… During the late 1940s, Huncke was recruited to be a subject in Alfred Kinsey’s research on the sexual habits of the American male. 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 Huncke had been a writer, unpublished, since his days in Chicago and gravitated toward literary types and musicians.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). When he first met Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, they were interested in writing and also unpublished. They were inspired by his stories of 42nd Street life, criminal life, street slang and his vast experience with drugs. Huncke was immortalized in Kerouac’s “On the Road” as the character Elmer Hassel.

Although it was his passion for thievery, heroin use and the outlaw lifestyle [that] fueled his daily activities, when he was caught he refused to inform on his friends.

Huncke and Ginsberg on E. 10th St. in NYC, 1970:


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