Top

news

Stories

 

The Beats Go On

How a kid from Boulder became an eyewitness to the passing of an era.

But they'd stayed in touch, calling each other out of the blue every few months.

Ide was living in San Francisco, trying to write. He'd visited Ferlinghetti at City Lights several times to present new material, at meetings usually set up by Ginsberg. But Ferlinghetti always told Ide that he needed "more experience" so that he could produce more varied material. It was frustrating, Ide complained; hell, if he experienced any more life, it'd probably kill him.

Ide was still wrestling with his drinking and drug use. Ginsberg had even helped pay for methadone treatment, until he learned that the best young poet in America was just combining it with dope. Ide would clean up only to begin using again, sighing resignedly but not very seriously about living the "artist's life." He said he'd assumed it would lead to an "early exit," and he and Hale joked about how his poetry should be handled after his death. With all the pederast laments and references to drugs, Ide laughed, it'd probably all be burned, especially if it fell into his father's hands. But beneath the humor, he desperately wanted his poetry published.

Allen Ginsberg and his protegé, Peter Hale, at an early Naropa summer session.Although Peter Hale wanted to talk with William Burroughs (above), he wound up becoming Ginsberg's assistant.Ginsberg with his Peters: Hale and Orlovsky.Chris Ide and Peter Hale in Boulder in the late '80s.Ginsberg and his "best young poet" Chris Ide at Naropa.Chris Ide in the early '90s, when the drugs were catching up to him.Peter Hale as he looks today, and as photographed by Steven Miles in 1985.
Steven Miles
Allen Ginsberg and his protegé, Peter Hale, at an early Naropa summer session.Although Peter Hale wanted to talk with William Burroughs (above), he wound up becoming Ginsberg's assistant.Ginsberg with his Peters: Hale and Orlovsky.Chris Ide and Peter Hale in Boulder in the late '80s.Ginsberg and his "best young poet" Chris Ide at Naropa.Chris Ide in the early '90s, when the drugs were catching up to him.Peter Hale as he looks today, and as photographed by Steven Miles in 1985.
Allen Ginsberg and his protegé, Peter Hale, at an early Naropa summer session.
Steven Miles
Allen Ginsberg and his protegé, Peter Hale, at an early Naropa summer session.

Hale had his own troubles. In 1990, their time together ended on a similar note. Hale had a little bit of morphine, too little to share with his friend, he thought. Ide was persistent, but when Hale wouldn't give in, he left the house and Boulder in a huff. They would never live together again. By the fall of 1990, he was deeply addicted to heroin. There was a steady, cheap supply in Boulder where he was going to school, and his involvement was no longer so innocent. Hale couldn't say when he'd passed the threshold from experimentation to addiction, but first he'd noticed that every activity was better when he was a little high, and then he noticed that there were few activities he could enjoy without it. He managed to miss only a few of his courses at the University of Colorado, and he didn't seem as bad off as some of his friends, who couldn't get out of bed without a fix, but he knew he was in trouble.

Then Hale's dealer left town and the supply dried up. He knew it was time to make a choice. A lot of his friends and fellow addicts immediately went on methadone, but he'd seen its impact on Burroughs and Corso and didn't want to switch one addiction for another.

Once again, Ginsberg stepped up for a friend, paying for meditation classes to help Hale find the strength to overcome his addiction. Hale committed to a training weekend and forced himself to stop taking any drugs for a week beforehand. Still, he stashed a little morphine on the side, promising himself he'd have it as a treat once he got through the weekend. But the meditation classes helped Hale appreciate what life could be like without heroin, and when he finished the course, he went home and discovered that he didn't need or want his morphine treat.

During that same weekend, Hale had also fallen in love -- and he realized he couldn't pursue the relationship if he was strung out. Between meditation and his new romance, Hale found enough reinforcement to stay clean. Although the relationship didn't last, his freedom from opiates and his dependence on meditation did.

Ide, however, couldn't seem to make the break. The news Hale was hearing about his friend was getting worse and worse. A mutual friend reported finding Ide sleeping on a park bench in San Francisco -- ragged, dirty, homeless, a modern-day Rimbaud storing material for future prose. The friend had invited him to stay at her apartment until he could get on his feet, and Ide had repaid the gesture by stealing from her to buy drugs.

In 1991, when Hale traveled to San Francisco to visit other friends, he decided to look up Ide. He found him living in a sleazy hotel, wearing clothes that he'd found on the street. Ide was inordinately proud of the pair of tattered jeans he'd dug out of an alley dumpster and was now wearing.

Ide was on his way to a local methadone clinic, so Hale decided to go with him. More disturbing than Ide's dirty clothes was the fact that he couldn't seem to carry on a conversation that wasn't drug-related. While they waited for his dose, all he could talk about was the "fucker" who stole the Valium. "I'll kill him."

Hale left Ide still boiling mad over his missing drugs, conjuring up ways he might score some Xanax, an antidepressant. Before, Hale had thought Ide was joking about that early exit. Now he wasn't so sure.

September 1992, New York City

After graduating from the University of Colorado in May 1992, Hale went to London, where he took in the sights and worked in a pub. When he came back through New York City four months later, he stopped in to see Ginsberg and happened to ask if the poet needed any help at his office.

Although Rosenthal was disinclined to hire any of Ginsberg's young male friends, Jaqueline Gens, who'd taken over some of the secretarial work, put in a good word. With a reluctant okay from Rosenthal, she put Hale to work cataloguing Ginsberg's photo contact sheets. That task led to another, and then another, and by late fall, Hale had committed to staying through the winter. By the following summer, he'd fallen in love with Joseph, a young painter, and decided to remain in New York for good. Ginsberg made the decision easier by giving Hale a full-time job after Gens left.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...