THE JIMMY PORTER LETTERS

Jimmy Porter, a notorious Lower East Side art thief and drug addict, was incarcerated in Downstate Correctional Facility in the early 1980s. While in prison he wrote a series of letters recounting his life of crime and sexual adventures.

These letters were written to his friend Bill Heine, a co-denizen of the Lower East Side music and drug scene. About the same time of Jimmy’s incarceration, Bill had relocated to a Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery in up-state New York for a three year, three month and three day retreat to change his own life.

This exchange of letters is the only time in their 30 year friendship where these men were drug free. Unfortunatly, Bill’s letters to Jimmy haven’t survived.

Tim Moran described Jimmy’s letters as “The most well written, vile, disturbing accounts of depravity I’ve ever read.” 

I struggle with the value of these letters—not the value, exactly—I deem them as precious—but does it make the world a better place to read them and present them?

These letters portray a subculture at the zenith of its existence before disappearing almost entirely.

A poem by Lee Forest, who had an unrequited love for Jimmy, has been saved. It reads:

Jimmy Porter

I sleep next to a wolf.
We lie in silence
aware of one another's breathing.
It is important
who wakes first in the morning.

Jimmy Porter died from an A.I.D.S. related suicide in 1986. --- Jerome V. Poynton 


In the 60s Bill was credited with introducing Tye Dye to America. He created his paintings by injecting bundled sheets with dye, using a hypodermic needle, and unfolding them to an array of bright color. In “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Dylan’s lyric “The empty handed painter from your streets/is drawing crazy paintings on your sheets,” is a reference to Bill Heine. (Jerome Poynton)

BILL HEINE (1929-2012)

Bill was a well-known participant in New York’s poetry, music and art scene during the time the neighborhood exploded with creative voices shaping the future of film, poetry and art. Officially a painter and musician Bill’s reputation was fearsome for his ability and knowledge in the practice of black magic. In the late 90s he discounted this reputation saying he knew very little about black magic but his carrying a book around on the subject garnered his reputation. He went on to explain, in detail, a specific spell he cast in his Lower East Side apartment—calling upon a spirit noted for sexual prowess. The spirit arrived at his door, wearing a leopard print dress, and went into the living room and had animated sex with his housemate, antiquarian art thief Jimmy Porter, before leaving and never being seen again.

Bill believed Black Magic was real but dangerous and he refused to practice it as the end result might satisfy your question but not your expectation.

Heine was never without his flute and always played drums. He played percussion with Charlie Parker in the early 50s and had vivid recollections of the Jazz greats including Lester Young, Zoot Sims, Lester Moore and Chicago guitarist Ronnie Singer. Heine was acutely aware of how racism impacted the early jazz scene where police and sailors routinely beat-up jazz musicians for sport. In one instance he remembered Navy men slamming the key board cover down on the fingers of a jazz pianist and another occasion where a black musician intervened in a fight with police officers to protect Charles Mingus, taking the blows for him. It was a time when Jazz greats, such as Billie Holiday, died kicking heroin, under police guard, handcuffed to a gurney at Metropolitan Hospital.

Heine recalled a Christmas Music review at Riker’s Island, where all the inmates renowned in the jazz world played for their fellow inmates. Miles Davis declined to participate.

Sharing a taste for drugs, Heine socialized with Parker off stage and recalled entering a den with Charlie Parker in front of him and Hank Williams behind him. Who knew these two American greats met and shared a drug proclivity?

In the 50s Bill visited Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeth’s hospital, secreting a bottle of wine, which Pound proceeded to open and down immediately without taking a breath of air.

In the 60s Bill was credited with introducing Tye Dye to America. He created his paintings by injecting bundled sheets with dye, using a hypodermic needle, and unfolding them to an array of bright color. In “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Dylan’s lyric “The empty handed painter from your streets/is drawing crazy paintings on your sheets,” is a reference to Bill Heine.

In 1982 Bill Heine moved with his companion, Anne Spitzer, from East 3rd Street to Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery, a Tibetian Buddhist Monastery in upstate New York. At night, living in separate buildings, they communicated with each other using flashlights. While living there Bill kicked his heroin habit. The Llama allowed him to visit his milk can of beer hidden in the woods off the monastery property. He wrote daily with Lionel Ziprin and Jimmy Porter, who was then incarcerated for thievery.

The letters of Jimmy Porter, sent to Heine in response to his letters, are presently in pre-production for a staged reading in Spring 2013. It is something Bill wanted to see happen but his magic didn’t last long enough on this earth.

Bill Heine’s last New York City show was with tattoo artist Tom Divita, poet Anne Ardolino and Cochise at the Outlaw Art Museum, curated by Clayton Patterson, March 1993. Following a graveside service in the Woodstock cemetery, he was laid to rest alongside his companion Anne Spitzer.

Jerome Poynton on  Musician, Artist, Magician Bill Heine, (February 8th 1929—September 15th 2012),  who lived on the Lower East Side in the 50s, 60s, 70’s and early 80s died in Kingston, New York on September 15th after a long illness.

— 1 year ago with 1 note
#Jimmy Porter Letters  #Bill Heine  #Jerome Poynton  #Charlie Parker  #Lester Young  #Riker's Island  #Ezra Pound  #Dylan  #It's All Over Now Baby Blue  #Anne Spitzer  #Kagyu Thubten Choling Monastery 

Bill Heine:

Burned the Magic out of Magic

by Herbert Huncke

 

Alone—one candle burning in a tall tapering wrought iron holder—a white paraffin candle—Wagner on the phonograph—an overture and Venusberg Music—Tannhäuser—writing—with red ink—my favorite color ink—occasionally pausing—glancing from one strange, intriguing scene to another—squares of stained materials—cottons—linens—heavy paper—thin paper—oiled after hand movements—flute blowing—pot—a shot—Charlie Parker—‘Hot House’—color applied with light swinging gestures—rubbing a thumb through the wet green or blue—red—violet—ink—Mercurochrome—gentian violet—iodine—patterns becoming visible—universal Gods—Temples—wayside resting places—caverns and caves—animals from another planet—streaming jangles—monkeys—baboons—huge monolithic beasts—intense glowing green—brilliant Persian blue—writhing black—shadows—the face of a lion—tiger—part of the head of an elephant—an eye—eyes. I have seen all this and much more—in one large, square hanging—now folded—or perhaps upon consideration—is spread out near Alex Trocchi—great—also there are bottles bound and wrapped—bright Turkish red silk threads—black—blue—white—squares of soft kid—goatskin—hides and leather thongs—pieces of brass—fountain pens—paint brushes—bits of metal—trinkets—buttons—a large piece of fur—small pelts—many of short fur—mink brown—it is frequently used to fold around books—held secure with quarter inch wide thongs of rawhide. The reverse side tanned with dyes—symbols worked in black ink—splashes of silver—long thin wavering streaks—winding—across the surface—a smoke like quality—on another fur piece—circular—a star-like geometric pattern—the skins cut into triangles—stained thoroughly with blues and mahogany red—into tones of deep red brown—symbols of silver paint—each triangle edged in silver.

All this in front of me—created and made by Bill Heine—whose whole existence—at this point—is a great outpouring of energy—his whole chemical being—activated—tingling—tensed—alert—while each moment his consciousness searches the scene—scanning the area—picking up something—a clay idol—a knife—pencils—pens—paper—beads—stones—gems—wire—thread—glue—bleach—material—cloth—wood—bone—shell—everything suggesting a new object—a new reality—a thing springing from his fingers—hands—arms—whole body—the ever constant linking together—methedrine—pot—heroin—tranquilizers occasionally—an ever present audio responsiveness—intonations—talking—voice sounds—set the nerves to vibrating—he looks for danger—usually has been scheming—he is immediately defensive. He becomes irritated easily—is fretful—dogmatic—somehow unaware of how to accept the moment in peace—rather—he grabs each instant—making a challenge of everything—relaxing seldom—never for long—then in restlessness—disturbed slumber—mutterings—once in awhile in a chair—lolled back—eyes closed—now and then fluttering lids—deep breathing—interrupted with a hissing sigh—cry-like sounds—a sort of moan—rolling the head with the rest of the torso slowly in swaying motion.

Picking up the flute he stands up—carefully adjusts the mouth to his—blows once—twice—followed by a series of sharp quick flute notes—takes a few steps—meanwhile rippling his fingers over the air holes. Again stops and begins blowing—along with the record of Charlie Parker—Bud Powell—preferably—with any music—or without music—wandering back and forth—never looking directly toward one—yet seeing every detail—of one’s surface conduct—catching hints of what has happened inside one’s self. He doesn’t spend much time investigating the causes—accepting his own responses as correct—not necessarily completely aware—yet sure of the meaning—without all the details—glossing over the omittance—rather superiorly—sure he has as some point passed through the same experience—nothing can be new—even allowing for personality differences.

His magic absorbs his spirit—black magic—white magic—Gods and Demons. He practices magic—creating. He reads about the formulas—he knows the forces to command—he calls upon the planets—the moon—the animals—the spirits of wood—metal—stone—earth—of all things—watching for signs—letter combinations—numerical values—good omens—bad omens. Hearing him blow the day into radiance—the sunlight out of the morning sky—walking the lower east side streets—the flute sweet—clear and haunting. The shepherd greeting the first faint rays of light washing away the dark—giving thanks—to the world—mountains—rivers—streams—the flowers—the trees—the rocks—to all nature.

 

 

— 1 year ago with 3 notes
#Bill Heine  #Herbert Huncke 
Interview w/ Bill Heine c. 2005.
A card showed up in the mail a couple of days ago from the Main Street Studio in Cherry Valley, NY. An announcement for a group show of paintings, sculpture, photography, and ceramics, it said. The opening party was on the eighth – the card arrived about the tenth. Too bad. I’d have gone (yeah, right!) if only to schmooze with the gorgeous and beautiful and lovely Parker Posey. Bill Heine’s name was also on the card. I guess he put my name on the list but the odd thing was that the address included the original obscure spelling of my name which I didn’t think Heine even knew. A mystery. So I called Bill’s Wappingers Falls NY phone number. The phone company butted in to say the number wasn’t working. Hmmm … the plot thickens.
I met him in 1968. I should have met him in New York but I met him and his then wife or partner on a communal farm on the British Columbia coast a couple of hundred miles north of Vancouver. When I heard him play the guitar I became his friend for life although he never played it in my presence again and wouldn’t talk about it. There was a lot he would talk about and in the month or two that we hung out we must have engaged in the equivalent of sixteen bibles worth of conversation. Bill seemed to know everyone and everything. All I had to do was drop a name and he knew the inside story. He clued me in to all the behind-the-scenes knowledge and secrets of the world I thought I belonged to.
I knew Lester Young got him high but it was some years later that I learned he hung around the Open Door on 52nd Street and played drums there with Charlie Parker. I discovered that piece of occult information in 1972 while nursing a cold at Chuck and Lila’s place in Seattle where, too sick to go out, I read Chuck’s copy of Robert Reisner’s “Bird, The Legend of Charlie Parker”.

“The club was empty, except for the help, myself, and the four musicians playing with Bird – Ted Wald, bass; Bill Heine, drums; Warrick Brown, piano; and a trumpet player, a sweet little cat who is always present on every jazz scene and whom everybody calls ‘Face’.”

It was me and Bill that got in the skiff with the little Seagull engine one day and puttered up the Malaspina Inlet, just for something to do. When it started raining we decided to go by Nancy’s to wait out the rain. She fed us tea and strawberry cookies and as the rain wasn’t letting up we decided to head back. Halfway home it got dark and the storm got serious throwing us around in that little skiff, we could just barely make out the coastline we were following home. Bill and I are are facing each other and suddenly his face turns to fear, his eyes bug out and the next instant I’m in midair and come crashing down hard on my poor ass. I knew that face of Bill’s was the last thing I’d see in this too short life of mine, I was gonna die! Anyway, I didn’t die apparently and that was a moment of life-death neither of us ever forgot. A few weeks later he was back in New York via California and I was back in Vancouver. Bill crossed my mind many times over the years. Around ’74 I wrote Ginsberg but he didn’t know anything about Bill’s whereabouts. In ’85 Ginsberg was in town and told me he’d seen Bill around Times Square but otherwise had no information.
Herbert Huncke was a legendary character, the original beat, Times Square hustler, petty thief, junkie, associate of Burroughs and later Ginsberg, et al, who saw in him the archetypical outsider hipster hero angel. I never met him. Around ’96 or 7 I found his book, Guilty of Everything, in which he writes at length about his association, with Heine, “the magician”. Somehow I tracked down an address for Huncke – through Raymond Foye, I think – he was at the Chelsea Hotel. I wrote asking if he knew the whereabouts of Heine. I knew Huncke was sick and within weeks after sending my letter he was dead. I tried Ginsberg again and this time got an address and phone number.

1947 – my high school art class chartered a bus for a N.Y. trip to visit the art museums followed by a stage show (The Rockettes) at Radio City Music hall. I was tight with the teacher and asked her for a detour to 52nd Street for me alone. She gave the o.k. and off I went – 52nd Street and 7th Ave. – one of the big turning points of this life. I went to the 3 Deuces, Bird wasn’t there, later I learned he was in Europe. Sir Charles Thompson was there – a good band – Don Byas, Shadow Wilson, Benny Harris. Sir Charles was one of the first Be-bop piano players – it was in the air. The door wouldn’t open till 11 o’clock so I hung out at the bar on the corner – two guys walked in – I was 17, they looked to be in their late 20′s early 30′s – at the time I never thought about it. We met, I told them my story, they bought me beers, they were familiar with the 52nd Street scene, they wanted to take me to a jam session after hours. As we sat at the bar people would walk by the window and raise their arm. One of them would go out and follow the person down the street and make an exchange. later I found out it was morphine pills for money and later I found out one of the two was Huncke who I met again 14 years later at Ginsberg’s. His appearance had hardly changed. I had to leave before the Deuces opened to make my ride back to Pa. (Lancaster)
My first Bird hearing was in 1946 in my last year at Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois. A kid, son of a Chicago Irish gangster, had some early Bird records including a JATP record featuring Bird, Diz, Pres, etc. It was like magic, more than magic, my life completely turned around. I left that crazy school and came back east to live with my crazy family with a step-father former army intelligence officer – U.S. Army.
I’m still “Chasin’ the Bird”. It’s been a great adventure with many chapters. I’m trying to learn the piano – which is an impossible quest, there’s no goal, the path and the goal are the same. I’ll be a perpetual beginner. There’s no other way for me.
I re-read your web site story. In many ways it’s like Huncke – straight out ‘tell it like it is’. It’s a school of writing to give a new freedom. I love what you’ve done. I’m sure you’ll do more.
I’m sending you another tape – a collection of ‘essences’ from the 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s – some later.
your pal Bill

His phone has been disconnected. 

Interview w/ Bill Heine c. 2005.

A card showed up in the mail a couple of days ago from the Main Street Studio in Cherry Valley, NY. An announcement for a group show of paintings, sculpture, photography, and ceramics, it said. The opening party was on the eighth – the card arrived about the tenth. Too bad. I’d have gone (yeah, right!) if only to schmooze with the gorgeous and beautiful and lovely Parker Posey. Bill Heine’s name was also on the card. I guess he put my name on the list but the odd thing was that the address included the original obscure spelling of my name which I didn’t think Heine even knew. A mystery. So I called Bill’s Wappingers Falls NY phone number. The phone company butted in to say the number wasn’t working. Hmmm … the plot thickens.

I met him in 1968. I should have met him in New York but I met him and his then wife or partner on a communal farm on the British Columbia coast a couple of hundred miles north of Vancouver. When I heard him play the guitar I became his friend for life although he never played it in my presence again and wouldn’t talk about it. There was a lot he would talk about and in the month or two that we hung out we must have engaged in the equivalent of sixteen bibles worth of conversation. Bill seemed to know everyone and everything. All I had to do was drop a name and he knew the inside story. He clued me in to all the behind-the-scenes knowledge and secrets of the world I thought I belonged to.

I knew Lester Young got him high but it was some years later that I learned he hung around the Open Door on 52nd Street and played drums there with Charlie Parker. I discovered that piece of occult information in 1972 while nursing a cold at Chuck and Lila’s place in Seattle where, too sick to go out, I read Chuck’s copy of Robert Reisner’s “Bird, The Legend of Charlie Parker”.

“The club was empty, except for the help, myself, and the four musicians playing with Bird – Ted Wald, bass; Bill Heine, drums; Warrick Brown, piano; and a trumpet player, a sweet little cat who is always present on every jazz scene and whom everybody calls ‘Face’.”

It was me and Bill that got in the skiff with the little Seagull engine one day and puttered up the Malaspina Inlet, just for something to do. When it started raining we decided to go by Nancy’s to wait out the rain. She fed us tea and strawberry cookies and as the rain wasn’t letting up we decided to head back. Halfway home it got dark and the storm got serious throwing us around in that little skiff, we could just barely make out the coastline we were following home. Bill and I are are facing each other and suddenly his face turns to fear, his eyes bug out and the next instant I’m in midair and come crashing down hard on my poor ass. I knew that face of Bill’s was the last thing I’d see in this too short life of mine, I was gonna die! Anyway, I didn’t die apparently and that was a moment of life-death neither of us ever forgot. A few weeks later he was back in New York via California and I was back in Vancouver. Bill crossed my mind many times over the years. Around ’74 I wrote Ginsberg but he didn’t know anything about Bill’s whereabouts. In ’85 Ginsberg was in town and told me he’d seen Bill around Times Square but otherwise had no information.

Herbert Huncke was a legendary character, the original beat, Times Square hustler, petty thief, junkie, associate of Burroughs and later Ginsberg, et al, who saw in him the archetypical outsider hipster hero angel. I never met him. Around ’96 or 7 I found his book, Guilty of Everything, in which he writes at length about his association, with Heine, “the magician”. Somehow I tracked down an address for Huncke – through Raymond Foye, I think – he was at the Chelsea Hotel. I wrote asking if he knew the whereabouts of Heine. I knew Huncke was sick and within weeks after sending my letter he was dead. I tried Ginsberg again and this time got an address and phone number.

1947 – my high school art class chartered a bus for a N.Y. trip to visit the art museums followed by a stage show (The Rockettes) at Radio City Music hall. I was tight with the teacher and asked her for a detour to 52nd Street for me alone. She gave the o.k. and off I went – 52nd Street and 7th Ave. – one of the big turning points of this life. I went to the 3 Deuces, Bird wasn’t there, later I learned he was in Europe. Sir Charles Thompson was there – a good band – Don Byas, Shadow Wilson, Benny Harris. Sir Charles was one of the first Be-bop piano players – it was in the air. The door wouldn’t open till 11 o’clock so I hung out at the bar on the corner – two guys walked in – I was 17, they looked to be in their late 20′s early 30′s – at the time I never thought about it. We met, I told them my story, they bought me beers, they were familiar with the 52nd Street scene, they wanted to take me to a jam session after hours. As we sat at the bar people would walk by the window and raise their arm. One of them would go out and follow the person down the street and make an exchange. later I found out it was morphine pills for money and later I found out one of the two was Huncke who I met again 14 years later at Ginsberg’s. His appearance had hardly changed. I had to leave before the Deuces opened to make my ride back to Pa. (Lancaster)

My first Bird hearing was in 1946 in my last year at Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois. A kid, son of a Chicago Irish gangster, had some early Bird records including a JATP record featuring Bird, Diz, Pres, etc. It was like magic, more than magic, my life completely turned around. I left that crazy school and came back east to live with my crazy family with a step-father former army intelligence officer – U.S. Army.

I’m still “Chasin’ the Bird”. It’s been a great adventure with many chapters. I’m trying to learn the piano – which is an impossible quest, there’s no goal, the path and the goal are the same. I’ll be a perpetual beginner. There’s no other way for me.

I re-read your web site story. In many ways it’s like Huncke – straight out ‘tell it like it is’. It’s a school of writing to give a new freedom. I love what you’ve done. I’m sure you’ll do more.

I’m sending you another tape – a collection of ‘essences’ from the 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s – some later.

your pal Bill

His phone has been disconnected. 

— 1 year ago with 1 note
#Bill Heine  #Herbert Huncke  #Helen Oliver Adelson  #Patti Smith  #That's Beautiful Frank  #Burroughs  #Ginsberg  #Bird  #Kerouac  #Guilty of Everything  #Lester Young  #Charlie Parker 

A MILLION MILES IN NEW YORK CITY

An Interview With Bill Heine

(via: H(ear))

I first met Bill Heine last summer while my parents and I were staying with our close friend and poet, Janine Pommy Vega, at her home near Woodstock, New York. Bill stopped by the following afternoon to shoot some photographs of Janine for a painting, and it was here he and I let the afternoon blossom for two hours in her garden, rambling about Charlie Parker and Ralph Vaughn Williams, where we agreed, soon, we’d do this again. As he was leaving, poet Andy Clausen remarked in the driveway, “Ah man, he’s black magic, people came to him for all sorts of strange things.” I was interested. After he left, we were all sitting in Janine’s small kitchen eating bread, where she reached over and gave me his phone number, a look in her eyes saying that this guy was a dear friend.

It’s true you’ll find his and Janine’s name drawn numerously if you flip through any page of Herbert Huncke’s memoirs and journals in The Herbert Huncke Reader, where therein, he’s portrayed as an infamous friend and gobbler of New York City’s underground that emerged through the street jive of music, poetry, dope, and jazz; shedding the evocative minds of Janine, Huncke, and the rest of the wheeling Beat generation. Bop to any jazz night-club back then and you’d either find Bill skinning his drums on-stage with the likes of Charlie Parker or merely devouring the scene with a grin, book, or paint brush— rumors even whisper Dylan had a notorious lyric after Bill’s hustling allegro. At 74, over the phone he might tell you such gossip is bullshit— his house spread to the floor with flutes, books, and music, where on any given day he might slowly hop in his car and paint a splashing image of the Catskills, conditioned to his view from the drivers seat (my type of incidental art, an entire album is indeed filled with these lovely, tender works). Besides the admirable mentions by Huncke and other various plateaus to his name, I had no clue to the man’s wonder until we talked that afternoon, and once again on the phone, where I was almost surprised that he remembered me, as though expecting my call for months. The conversation shifted the scale of an hour as we made arrangements for the next time we’d meet— this time with music in hand. His casual tone and smile reminds me a bit of Art Blakey, resembling the exposed rhythm of a drummer, a street, a note of living humanity, riding the weight of life that keeps on going:

Bill Heine: This might interest you, I found some tapes. Here, I’ll read some: Uh, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Sarah Vaughn. Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Zoot Zims, Dizzy Gillespie. You have all those?

Carson Arnold: Yeah, I do, at least what I can. I like Sarah Vaughn’s record, In The Lonely Hours. That’s great one…I just found a whole bunch of Haydn symphonies for a few bucks. You play any music when you wake up in the morning?

BH: Yeah, I play William Byrd’s Mass For Four Voices, you heard that one?

CA: It’s a great one. I wanted to talk to you about your drumming days.

BH: Yeah, I started when I was about…twelve years old. In was during the war {WWII}, we were stationed at an air force base {Bill had previously told me that his family would be notified about bombings before everybody else}. It was before Civil Rights, and there were Count Basie, boogie-woogie players would come there. But they would play in the gym. The black soldiers would be down at the bottom and the white officers would be up on the balcony. So I got to hear some great music, and started playing then when I got a set of drums. I had a jazz band in military school— it was a pretty good band actually. Then after that I went east in ‘47 and started playing in a band at military bases. And then when I went to school in Washington D.C. I didn’t play at all, I just listened. When I went to New York I started playing clubs. 1952 started playing. Clubs like The Open Door…the…god, I can’t think of the names. I was playing dinner tables. Zoot Sims, Bill Moore, Larry Young of course, Ronnie Singer {?}, the guitar player— they’re all gone, all dead now.

CA: What about Charlie Parker?

BH: That came when I was at The Open Door in a house band, they hired him. That’s what he was doing then— going around and playing with house bands, not always, but in New York. So I got to play with him then. Quite a few times I hung out with him, a bit when he was sick staying in that place across from The Bohemia, that was another great place. It was in a rooming house and he had terrible ulcers, and god knows what else. He had a friend or valise, a black Muslim, we were good friends and would hang out with him. He was terrible pain and we gave him tea medicine or heroin, or he would get it. Lots of pain. We went on a cab ride with him once when his daughter died, and we kept circling around the hospital. Eventually he went to Birdland trying to get some money, had trouble. It’s ironic, the place is named after him and he’s having trouble getting money.

CA: How was it playing with him?

BH: Oh, it was wonderful. The sound, very unique. His breath, his dexterity. He didn’t jump around the stage or even tap his foot, the only thing he moved was his fingers. Just standing there, his posture, and he was incredibly strong. I saw him in a fight once and he knocked the guy right down. Some marine at least fifty pounds heavier. He had incredible endurance and could go for days. Not much sleep, not much food, and was in terrible pain, which is mostly why he took the heroin. I don’t think he ever got high, he did it ‘cuz he was in such pain. There were many lofts that had jam sessions, and he would appear there. I would run into him at places like that.

CA: How were you living at this point?

BH: I was living the same way he was. From place to place. Things were intense then, no one ever thought about it; going from place to place. There weren’t crash pads— there were plenty of people who would put you up.

CA: You were telling me about Lester Young once.

BH: Lester didn’t appear much. He appeared once at the Bohemia and a little later at the Half Note. You don’t really get it on the records as much as you do in person, what a great sound he had. You could see right away he had a tremendous ear. Memorized all his solos. Lou Poser imitated him in that way {titling his saxophone}. Every tune he had ever written he had been playing since he was a teenager. In the south, traveling in tent shows, gospel groups. Then hit Kansas City, and eventually Count Basie. But there was other bands. Kansas City was wide open; mafia ties with everybody; drugs. That was a big town for drugs— cocaine, heroin, everything. That movie that Altman put out, Kansas City, it’s exaggerated, but it’s all pretty true. There was about eighty or ninety places that had music open all night, and all the big bands would go there, and all the white bands who came through would come and listen. Benny Goodman. {Lester} didn’t like crowds too much and was living at the Albion Hotel in New York, I think that was the name. People would visit him there.

CA: Did you visit him?

BH: I came once and he wasn’t there. I didn’t really meet him until the Bohemian. At the Five Spot he use to go into the kitchen and smoke grass, I witnessed that. Ginsberg came in and actually did a prostration to him. I stayed in the city. I did go out once, only to New Jersey with a trumpet player.

CA: What do you remember most about these jazz clubs, you know?

BH: It was completely free and open. They’re all gone now, but they were wonderful. No one made any money except the mafia— it was mostly mafia owned. It was before Civil Rights— black musicians would have trouble, especially on 52nd street, that’s why they came downtown, they didn’t have trouble as much, except with the police. The mafia took Bud Powell on a ride once to try and scare him. Told him they were gonna break his hands, that kind of stuff. He was beat up once in Atlantic City, and was hit on the head so hard he was never the same after that they say. He wound up getting shock treat, oh man. Somehow survived it, that’s when he went to Paris.

CA: How many nights would you be playing?

BH: Every night. Either in a loft, a session some place, or at the Open Door or Bohemia. A couple of clubs on Christopher Street. Arthur’s Tavern was one. Bill Moore had a permanent gig there, playing five dollars a night with all the beer you could drink. I saw great sessions there.

CA: Was Art Blakey coming around there?

BH: Oh, yeah, Art Blakey. I never saw him except at the Open Door and at the Bohemia…and Birdland, and a loft some place. One time the police came to his apartment, knocked on his door, and he said who is it? And they said the police. So then he called the police and said “someone’s trying to rob me” {laughs}. The police came and he had to get rid of everything before they searched the place.

CA: And you had trouble with the police.

BH: Yeah. A few times. Six months or ninety days or something. There wasn’t much place for musicians, especially if they were arrested with any kind of a drug. That was only the bad part. Eighty percent of the time it was great, terrific. Saw everybody— Clifford Brown, Dizzy Gillespie. Ronny Singer, great guitar player from Chicago. He had a suicide pact with his girlfriend, and they took a lot of barbiturates and died in one of the hotels in the Village. Everything was wonderful, and then Coltrane started to appear, playing mostly in the clubs around there. I thought he was the best before, ironically, he got his own group. For some reason, I don’t know why. But he was very badly hooked then, maybe that was it. He was great, sometimes he wouldn’t appear for a set, although they all did that.

CA: And Ornette Coleman would be coming around then.

BH: Ornette Coleman would be coming around with that wonderful bass player…

CA: Charlie Haden.

BH: Yeah. The two drummers were great, and Don Cherry.

CA: Billy Higgins.

BH: Yeah, he was the drummer I was thinking of. And they played around mostly in lofts, made great recordings. But no one got rich.

CA: You get money?

BH: I don’t know. Who knows. People in the lofts that are still alive today? Nobody! A guy named Paul Beatty. He was a painter, and had a loft on the corner of 4th Street and third avenue. There was constant music there all the time. I don’t think there was anybody who didn’t come there at one time or another. Including Milt Jackson, and the bass player for the Modern Jazz Quartet, Percy Heath. And then there was another loft on West Street.

CA: And then when did you get out of New York?

BH: I went into exile as I call it around 1980. Nothing was going on much. There was a little place on 4th Street that I use to go down and play at; mostly sessions which were great.

CA: What was Birdland like?

BH: I only liked Birdland for the music. Otherwise it was kind of…It was very relaxed, but most times I was there, there was only about ten or twenty people there.

CA: How comfortable were white and black people together?

BH: I’d say it was about half and half. There was never any huge crowds but sometimes they were good. Who was that jazz scat singer? God, what’s wrong with my memory today?

CA: Billy Eckstine?

BH: No. He was great, but he was already in Vegas by that point. Billy Holiday was around but never saw her. I had a friend who use to see her. At that time she was gonna be ending up at Bellview dead, arrested on her deathbed. Which is all true. Dinah Washington was at the Vanguard a lot. She use to come in with a fur coat on and a white Cadillac, and the owner of the club use to wonder where she got all her money. He never asked her, but she was probably dealing.

CA: Where would all the jazz guys get their drugs? Would there be a few people they would go to?

BH: Oh, someone would come in, or someone would appear, go to a corner and get them. Always around. Carmine Street was one of the places, and in the West Side, 8th avenue.

CA: Why did you go into exile?

BH: When the rent went up, and we moved to the Tibetan Monastery in Wappingers Falls. Eventually moved to Walden across the river. Beacon for a while, then here. I played at Joshua’s a few times with a good group. I was playing piano by then. I still play drums, but when you play piano, especially by yourself, it’s better.

CA: Did you ever deal with John Cage at all?

BH: When I was student in Washington D.C, yes. Merce Cunningham taught at the school. He use to come there and perform with his radios {laughs}. Taught how to make the prepared piano with paper clips and screws without ruining it, yeah. In the school there was some jazz, but not much. Mostly alumni from Black Mountain. A few poets.

CA: Did you have any books that were published?

BH: Oh, very few, I think Janine has one somewhere.

CA: When did you meet Herbert Huncke?

BH: Oh, Huncke. The jazz period was over by the time I knew him. Oh, wait a minute, when Janine had a place on 6th Street, Huncke and I lived there. Nobody ever played there, a lot of musicians came there to get their drugs. There was stuff happening there, but I was so involved with drugs I didn’t have time for anything else. I never knew he was a writer, though, except Janine mentioned he was a writer, and he had this little notebook. And I didn’t know his name was Herbert either, it was “Huncke”. And Janine was very quiet then, quite beautiful, she was thinner then than she is now. Didn’t start writing until a year later. When she met Fernando.

CA: And how did you encounter Janine?

BH: I met her through Ginsberg. I was going out into a blizzard and was walking up 2nd Street with a ski mask on, and ran into him, she was there with Peter {Orlovsky}. And then later she was living with a girl. I remember Huncke or somebody was sick— junk sick— and went down there to give him a shot of speed, and Janine was there, and I guess that’s how I got to know her. Eventually we moved to 6th Street. Wonderful experience. She was working at a public library then.

CA: And were doing painting like you were doing now?

BH: Yeah, mostly small stuff, much different than what I’m doing now. Music then? Nothing. Well, I was learning to play this flute. Early sixties— oh wait, there was some. I had a place on 12th Street, met all these young kids that mostly played guitar, and they were all from California. It wasn’t until ‘68 that I met them all again in Haight-Ashbury, but originally they were all in the lower East Side. I went to Woodstock and stayed there for a year. Janine, as you know, went to Europe with Fernando {Vega}, and he died of some overdose of some kind. She’s an incredible survivor— very strong, and somehow made it.

CA: How was that painting that you did of Janine— the photograph you took?

BH: Oh, I haven’t gotten the photographs back yet. But I’ll do it. I use to do some of those. I did a lot of portraits of Erin Black, she’s sort of a recluse, a painter.

CA: You were telling me you paint your pictures from your car, right?

BH: Very often from the driver’s side. I would go and pick the spots, and if it was possible, I would get out, but if not, I would do it right from the window— and it gave you a very good view. I’ve found some great spots where you can see some great things just from the car. Go right to the edge of the Hudson, which is close by, I go there a lot. A lot of animals and roads. I had a friend who I use to do it with; we’d go everywhere, all through the Catskills, out to Cherry Valley, everywhere. The Catskills are one of the greatest places on earth if you really get into it.

CA: How did that gallery {for your art work} go?

BH: Yeah, I finally did sell some paintings. I sold a painting I did in the 70’s. I guess you could call it abstract, or expressionist. The summer before last I did one with a cat, and then one with a river during sunset…or sunrise.

CA: Looking back, you feel good about your life?

BH: Yeah, I don’t regret anything, really. No regrets, none. I mean, a lot of stuff was difficult and a lot of pain, but that’s the way it is. The way you get off is you don’t get off, you vow to stay on and help mankind until everybody is happy again— which is never. Keep going trying to survive. Like my car broke down— I’ve been through this a million times— transmission, wham. Are Plymouth’s any good? I found one.

CA: I think so. I have a Ford. In Huncke’s book {The Herbert Huncke Reader} you’re described as this “magician”, black magic magician.

BH: Oh, that’s exaggerated.

CA: What’s it mean?

BH: Oh, I met Harry Smith, and he and everyone really influenced me. And I use to go to this bookstore on 4th Avenue, and they had rare books, occult books, books on alchemy and things like that. And I’d get these books and I’d carry them around with me in a sack. Maybe I read a few of them, a few chapters, and so everyone saw me with these books and thought, you know. And I wouldn’t talk much I guess, and if I did, it would come out as nonsense most of the time. Huncke’s imagination got carried away— needles can make you do funny things. And so a lot of it he imagined. Though I did have a few experiences which were amazing, where I was studying the Goshiean Spirits— seventy goshien demons— who Solomon knew how to control. The book gave you instructions on how to do it and everything, and so I drew this big serpent with the four points for the incense, I recited it and everything (naturally I was young and horny). And I invoked this spirit, Siptry, who appeared on the head of a leopard. And he granted me the power to seduce anybody he wanted. So I invoked him, and in the middle of it— the incense was burning, the proper thing— there was a knock on the door. It was a woman with a leopard skin coat on and a hat, and walked in right on by me, went into one of the rooms and made it with by the guys in there. Then left. {laughs} Never tried it again. Figured it could be dangerous. I was on speed, which isn’t a good thing to do, except for music…sometimes.

CA: And you were doing a lot of this?

BH: (My hearing is bad, this is a terrible phone.) Speed, yes. Found a connection on the corner of 12th Street and Avenue C. An old man, he was in his nineties in a drugstore. And he could get an ounce of speed in ‘63 for twelve dollars an ounce. And it was crystal. So we had that connection for a while, and it was very cheap until the law caught notice of it, and in about five years it was gone. No, god, I can’t even imagine doing anything like that now.

CA: How did you make your living back then?

BH:…Just by hustling, same way Huncke did. I still do, just with paintings, a different medium. Try not to hurt anybody and you’ll be all right. I was good enough, yeah. Huncke was good. Everybody has a low point, he had some low points— I remember them. When he met Charlie Plymell and he published his first book that turned everything around. He’s a weird guy, doesn’t talk much, but very nice…Why they’re all in Cherry Valley, that’s weird.

CA: My, so that whole black-magic stuff was just-

BH: Nah, I read enough to know that it’s extremely dangerous. If you curse anybody it comes back on you. Sometimes before it even happens to him, or her, or what. Anger is black-magic enough. You’re hurting somebody.

CA: Did you stay in touch with Huncke right up until he died?

BH: Yes, I stayed in touch with Huncke…what happened? Something happened. Oh yeah, we talked for quite a while during the 70’s, and then when I went north to the monastery I lost touch with him. And then I was on my way to see him at the Chelsea Hotel, I was going to go that Saturday, and he died that Thursday. We were friends at the end. For a while we weren’t, I don’t know why, he was so whacked out on cocaine, whooph. He lived to be 81, which is remarkable considering what he did. I have bad knees, that’s the only thing that bothers me. And that’s from years of walking a million miles in New York City.

— 1 year ago
#Bill Heine  #Herbert Huncke  #Janine Pommy Vega  #Charlie Parker  #Dylan  #Art Blakey  #New York City  #Birdland  #The Five Spot  #The Chelsea  #Ginsberg  #Harry Smith 
Dear Bill,

Did you know Charlotte Baumgartner, Gloria’s beautiful next-door neighbor? Dee Christian was doing time when Charlotte lived there, and Gloria, true to form to the gender, was avidly lusting after me. I met Gloria on St. Mark’s Place, hurrying home after copping what she insisted was superior dope, and after weighing alternatives, I accepted her invitation to join the willful lady.

We shot the drugs, which were only medium good, and even though I felt somewhat indebted for her generosity, I decided to escape the inevitable promises of pleasure she offered, disinclined as I was to the geriatric midget’s sensual gifts. Consequently, I exacted a ruse promulgated on thirst, and, gentleman that I am, pretended departure for liquid sustenance for us before bedding her, while promising a speedy return.

While donning my Burberry, someone knocked, and as I was nearer the door I asked who it was … “Charlotte!” she said. “Charlotte who,” I asked. “Charlotte Baumgartner!” she answered.

Before Gloria could say “Let her in.” I threw the door wide and lovely Charlotte was in my arms with her nose in my mouth.

Charlotte was another of Walter Winchell’s column items. He wrote, “Charlotte Baumgartner has the greatest boobs of the Copa line girls.” But he could have gone further with comparisons of her beauty, much further, indeed.

To make that long story short, we all settled for water and coital fluids to slake our thirsts, and wonder of wonders, Ms. D’Amico’s tits compared at least favorably to Charlotte’s.

Gloria had that and that’s all the little wop had, but she did do justice, I must admit, to my member, as I snuffled Miss Baumgartner’s pits.

I lost track of Charlotte after sending her packing to New York from Miami, which had culminated in an abortive emotional entanglement wherein she demanded my undivided love and fidelity for life.

Having escaped John Brent’s mother’s wrath at OUR not being homosexual lovers, I hurried from her tuna blue painted home, garden, rocks, trees—even the toilet bowl below the water-line had been painted tuna blue.  I road the bus from Key West, leaving John to bare the brunt of his mama’s whine to join Chrlottte …  that blonde giant goddess … and I took my L.S.D. stash with me.

We swallowed two overdoses apiece at the Greyhound Bus Terminal where she met my bus, and after chasing an admiring crowd of esthete gawkers following the darling, we went to the Hotel Evergrlades Pussycat Room to while away some time together.

That club is like the Playboy Club, featuring lovely ladies in scanty feline-like attire who wait upon the patrons therein. Even so, my partner won the accolades of those assembled, including every member of the band, who took turns trying to persuade Charlotte from my side—to no avail, or course.

It happened our waitress was the second loveliest being in the joint, and I talked Charlotte into her first sensual awakening of the possibilities engendered in a ménage a trois with me and one of her own kind.

When my “star” agreed to the sensual experiment, I secreted a roach I’d pocketed in my cigarette, and as our waitress approached I lit the thing and blew the fumes to her smile … which grew wider—with her eyes—upon recognition. She said she’d be delighted to join us at closing but would have to make excuses to her boyfriend who was meeting her. “Of course, dear,” I said through pulsing L.S.D. distortions, “of course.”

Her old man turned out to be a fucking State Trooper, and I almost needed my napkin to wipe the chair of my shocked evacuations. Anyway, whatever she told him, he split, and when I recovered, we left too, the three of us. Patsy, that was her name, invited us to her bungalow in Miami, and I knew the rest, and you know the rest, I guess. However, I’ll add something of memorable event that only the brave experience. Both broads pissed on me simultaneously. A double golden shower introduced me to water sports that wee-wee hour. (I had to use that pun, Bill, I’ll never get the chance again.)

Oh, it was all memorable as you should expect, but that was unique in my experience … gazing up at two vaginas, while prone in a tub, both releasing their floods all over my body.

“And, strange to tell, among that earthen lot, some could articulate while other’s not.”

They both, the two of them, bespoke gushing splendor to my lysergic acid diethyladimidic pleasure.

In turn, I offered my own stream to their vying need, and we all of us expressed our joy and wonder at the joys one could realize through the delights of the liquid.

Naturally, the obvious is obvious. All and everything as Gurdjieff expounded in a ‘Third Way’ was opened with Ouspensky; and the Subud’s, the ESTs, even the Scientologists would agree that the paths to enlightenment deserve wider thoroughfare.  If they but knew.

More on the perils of Charlotte anon.

 
Love,
JP

Dear Bill,

Did you know Charlotte Baumgartner, Gloria’s beautiful next-door neighbor? Dee Christian was doing time when Charlotte lived there, and Gloria, true to form to the gender, was avidly lusting after me. I met Gloria on St. Mark’s Place, hurrying home after copping what she insisted was superior dope, and after weighing alternatives, I accepted her invitation to join the willful lady.

We shot the drugs, which were only medium good, and even though I felt somewhat indebted for her generosity, I decided to escape the inevitable promises of pleasure she offered, disinclined as I was to the geriatric midget’s sensual gifts. Consequently, I exacted a ruse promulgated on thirst, and, gentleman that I am, pretended departure for liquid sustenance for us before bedding her, while promising a speedy return.

While donning my Burberry, someone knocked, and as I was nearer the door I asked who it was … “Charlotte!” she said. “Charlotte who,” I asked. “Charlotte Baumgartner!” she answered.

Before Gloria could say “Let her in.” I threw the door wide and lovely Charlotte was in my arms with her nose in my mouth.

Charlotte was another of Walter Winchell’s column items. He wrote, “Charlotte Baumgartner has the greatest boobs of the Copa line girls.” But he could have gone further with comparisons of her beauty, much further, indeed.

To make that long story short, we all settled for water and coital fluids to slake our thirsts, and wonder of wonders, Ms. D’Amico’s tits compared at least favorably to Charlotte’s.

Gloria had that and that’s all the little wop had, but she did do justice, I must admit, to my member, as I snuffled Miss Baumgartner’s pits.

I lost track of Charlotte after sending her packing to New York from Miami, which had culminated in an abortive emotional entanglement wherein she demanded my undivided love and fidelity for life.

Having escaped John Brent’s mother’s wrath at OUR not being homosexual lovers, I hurried from her tuna blue painted home, garden, rocks, trees—even the toilet bowl below the water-line had been painted tuna blue.  I road the bus from Key West, leaving John to bare the brunt of his mama’s whine to join Chrlottte …  that blonde giant goddess … and I took my L.S.D. stash with me.

We swallowed two overdoses apiece at the Greyhound Bus Terminal where she met my bus, and after chasing an admiring crowd of esthete gawkers following the darling, we went to the Hotel Evergrlades Pussycat Room to while away some time together.

That club is like the Playboy Club, featuring lovely ladies in scanty feline-like attire who wait upon the patrons therein. Even so, my partner won the accolades of those assembled, including every member of the band, who took turns trying to persuade Charlotte from my side—to no avail, or course.

It happened our waitress was the second loveliest being in the joint, and I talked Charlotte into her first sensual awakening of the possibilities engendered in a ménage a trois with me and one of her own kind.

When my “star” agreed to the sensual experiment, I secreted a roach I’d pocketed in my cigarette, and as our waitress approached I lit the thing and blew the fumes to her smile … which grew wider—with her eyes—upon recognition. She said she’d be delighted to join us at closing but would have to make excuses to her boyfriend who was meeting her. “Of course, dear,” I said through pulsing L.S.D. distortions, “of course.”

Her old man turned out to be a fucking State Trooper, and I almost needed my napkin to wipe the chair of my shocked evacuations. Anyway, whatever she told him, he split, and when I recovered, we left too, the three of us. Patsy, that was her name, invited us to her bungalow in Miami, and I knew the rest, and you know the rest, I guess. However, I’ll add something of memorable event that only the brave experience. Both broads pissed on me simultaneously. A double golden shower introduced me to water sports that wee-wee hour. (I had to use that pun, Bill, I’ll never get the chance again.)

Oh, it was all memorable as you should expect, but that was unique in my experience … gazing up at two vaginas, while prone in a tub, both releasing their floods all over my body.

“And, strange to tell, among that earthen lot, some could articulate while other’s not.”

They both, the two of them, bespoke gushing splendor to my lysergic acid diethyladimidic pleasure.

In turn, I offered my own stream to their vying need, and we all of us expressed our joy and wonder at the joys one could realize through the delights of the liquid.

Naturally, the obvious is obvious. All and everything as Gurdjieff expounded in a ‘Third Way’ was opened with Ouspensky; and the Subud’s, the ESTs, even the Scientologists would agree that the paths to enlightenment deserve wider thoroughfare.  If they but knew.

More on the perils of Charlotte anon.

 

Love,

JP

— 1 year ago with 1 note
#Jimmy Porter Letters  #Bill Heine  #Gurdjieff  #LSD