Ed Hood

Previous:Apology Next:The Pru

I had a new apartment at 122 Mt. Auburn St., Harvard Square. Jim Parry had moved into a larger apartment at the same address and offered me his old place. Ed Hood had the third apartment on the ground flood of 122 Mt. Auburn St, along with me and Jim. You will remember Ed as the star of Warhol’s My Hustler. He also had a prominent part in Chelsea Girls. Ed had moved from the University of Minnesota to Cambridge in 1958 to enter a Ph. D. program in the English Department at Harvard, but by 1971, when I met him, he had been expelled, his academic career curtailed by a bust for shoplifting in the Harvard Coop.

122 Mt. Auburn Street, across the street from the Blue Parrot and the Club Casablanca, was one entrance into the vast, decrepit Craigie Hall, which also had entrances on University Road. During the Gilded Age Craigie Hall had provided spacious quarters with indoor toilets, running hot water and central heat for Harvard men when the on-campus accommodations in Harvard Yard had none of these. But that was long ago, and there were no more servants, smoking jackets or indoor lacrosse games, as all the Harvard undergraduates had moved back on campus after the creation of a new residence hall system in the 1930’s. There were several WBCN-related figures in residence in Craigie Hall. Peter Wolf (former WBCN DJ and singer in the J. Geils Band); Charles Giuliano, music critic at the Boston Phoenix,, who lived in a basement apartment at 4 University Road, where he continually broke down interior walls and expanded toward the dank interior; and others.

Over the years the once-roomy apartments had been subdivided, then divided again. Mine, described as a “1-bedroom”, was about 250 square feet. The bedroom was the size of a large coffin with a high ceiling. The kitchen was so narrow that I cold not turn around without rubbing shoulders against the walls. All the rooms, including the bathroom, had been built inside what was once a single room. But it was mine – I had never had an apartment of my own before, and I loved the place, and loved my neighbors Jim and Ed, too.

Jim you will remember as the only happy DJ at WBCN. Charles was sarcastic, smooth; Norm intense and sexy; Maxanne Sartori, Tommy Hadges and Andy Beaubien knowledgeable, charming, witty; Debbie Ullman spiritual; Sam Kopper sprightly and scattered; John Brody laid back; but Jim was the only one you would describe as a nice guy. He loved the blues, particularly acoustic blues, and seemed oblivious to the snickering comments of the other DJ’s about his “choo-choo train sets.” He just kept on chuggin’ playin’ the blues; his rap a little grainy, a little old for 28.

Ed Hood was a remittance man, originally from Alabama, where his widowed mother languished, still beautiful and still courted, on the family plantation. Mother and son had a deep affinity, but Ed’s visits at Thanksgiving and Christmas were too often abbreviated by the intervention of the Alabama State Police in Ed’s endless combinations of automobiles with alcohol and teenage boys. After these incidents Ed’s chagrined mother would give him some extra money and make him go away. Cambridge mostly tolerated him, but Ed’s monthly remittance, no matter how generous, was always quickly spent on the quantities of booze, pot and cocaine needed to entertain his boy friends.

I was aware of the constant nocturnal comings and goings at Ed’s place, and could hear the rock music and male chatter. Before the nightly parties Peter Wolf, always in dark glasses and black leather, slender, his long, straight black hair hiding his face, from which only the large nose protruded, would often visit Ed. During Wolf’s visits I could hear no music from Ed’s apartment; only the muffled sound of intense conversation between the two men.

I did not meet Ed until I had a telephone installed. He must have heard the first ring, and was soon knocking at my door, politely introducing himself in a startling, mellifluous, measured voice. I soon learned that Ed had an unpaid bill of $386.00 owed to New England Telephone, and that his phone had been disconnected. I let Ed use my phone. When he was done with his call, he looked around my apartment. Nothing much to see – a bent piece of foam for a sofa on the living room floor, a few motorcycle parts and two cardboard boxes of books. Ed picked up a book: a small leather bound copy of The Oxford Book of English Verse. “Do you read this?” Ed asked. “Yes,” I said. “Come over to my apartment, will you,” he said, “and have a glass of wine. I want to show you something.” I hesitated. I had been approached sexually by men before and was not interested. But there was something serious about Ed’s tone that allowed me to accept his invitation, and we went next door to his apartment. There he showed me his books. His bedroom was larger than mine, and he had had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves installed on three walls. The shelves were full. Piles of books were here and there in the living room, on the coffee table, in the small kitchen. Ed had an extensive collection of literature and literary criticism, over 2,000 books. As he was showing me his library he turned to me and asked, “How do you pronounce it? ‘litrachoor’ or ‘literchur’?”

I became a daily visitor to Ed’s place. My time was before Wolf, who was also Ed’s student – the early evening. Ed began to fill in some of the lacunae (a word he taught me) in the very mediocre education I had received at Triangle. He taught me the importance of Dante, and gave me reading assignments in Sinclair’s Italian-English edition of The Inferno. He was very unwilling to lend books (a trait I have also acquired; too often I have not got them back), and I soon had to acquire my own copy of Sinclair. I could hold my own with Ed in French literature and language, and in linguistics; but in every other aspect of literature he was by far my superior. He also taught me, oddly, a lot about ethics and morality.  He made me understand, for example, that there is no such thing as “bad” weather. I met the literati who drifted in and out of his salon: John Halowell; Gregory Corso; Gerard Malanga. I met Patrick Fleming, who had appeared, as himself, in some Warhol movies with Ed. Patrick was an illiterate Irish immigrant whose native language was Gaelic. I have never seen anything like the bond of devotion and trust that existed between Ed and Patrick. Incomprehensibly to me, the deep love between the two men did not seem to be affected by the constant late night stream of teenagers and 20-something young men in and out of Ed’s bedroom, where, I can assure you, dear reader, they were not looking at books. Patrick’s Irish accent, combined with his relative toothlessness, made it difficult for me to understand him, but I tried to listen and understand, and I found out that he and Ed talked about daily life: doctor’s appointments; getting a broken window fixed; setting up a bank account. The two had become family, as well as friends, and did things for each other that Ed’s literary friends would never have been bothered with.

There was an unspoken agreement between Ed and me: he would teach me and allow me access to his intellectual and artistic circle; I would let him use my telephone. But I did not like a knock on the door at 3:00 A. M, or, for that matter, 8:00. Once, meanly, at the sound of the knock, I answered the door naked. I will not forget the expression on Ed’s face. His jaw dropped; his eyes widened as he looked me up and down. “Would you like to use the phone?” I asked. “Never mind,” he said, and retreated into his apartment. I had never seen him confused before.

Do you know what a butt-set is, reader? In the days when the Telephone Company installed telephones, the installation person would have one of these: a handset-like device with wires coming out of it, hanging from a clip at the belt in such a way that the handset swung against the buttocks. I had found some old telephones and a butt-set in a pile of junk at the WBCN transmitter room. One afternoon I determined to explore the basement of Craigie Hall with the butt-set. I was going to get Ed a phone. I went past Jim Parry’s entrance on the first floor down the stairs by the tiny basement apartment inhabited by a straight-looking young woman who had told me that her rent was $45.00 a month, into the catacombs under Craigie Hall, where I knew there were telephone wires. Occasional incandescent lights tried to dispel some of the gloom, but there were none in the damp alcove, cluttered with old pipes and timbers, where I worked by flashlight, testing each of the pairs on a terminal strip with my butt-set. I found four that had dial tone. Now for the clever part – I had brought along several strands of very fine wire, so fine that so-called “ringing current”, the 90 volt, twenty cycle current that the phone company may still send down the wires to ring a telephone, would fuse the tiny wire – vaporize it if the phone attached to that circuit ever rang. I carefully bridged a piece of the fine wire across each of the four circuits. A few days later I returned. Three of the wires had fused; the fourth was still intact. I removed it, and tested it with my butt-set. Dial tone – nobody had called that line in four days. A few minutes work with needle nosed pliers and one of the old phones was attached.

My life changed. I no longer had three or four visits a day from Ed, calling his dates on my phone. Instead I could hear his magnificent voice distantly, from below, sometimes for hours at a time, not loud enough to disturb. One day Jim Parry approached me in the hall. “Have you heard Ed talking all the time in the basement? It sounds like he’s talking on the phone.” “Oh, really?” I said. The young woman from the bottom of the stairs was distraught. She was closer to the action. “Do you know what’s going on? It’s driving me crazy! I’ve asked him to stop, and he says he will, but then he’s doing it again. Shall I call the police?” “Yeah,” I said, “I know what you mean – but let’s give him a chance. I’ll talk to him, OK?”

This went one for about three months. In the meantime I had been fired from WBCN and was spending more time at home, feeling bad. One morning there was a knock on the door and a somber looking Ed asked me to join him in his apartment for some important business. In Ed’s living room was a well dressed man in his 30’s. We all sat down. The man looked at me. “Listen,” he said, “I don’t know your involvement with this but I do know that Ed has been using the Charles Group’s phone lines to make long distance calls, and that it has to stop. I’ve told Ed that this doesn’t have to go any further, as long as it stops. Ed and I were at school here,” the man said, gesturing over his shoulder towards the august institution all around us, “and I don’t want to take this to the authorities, but I will if I have to.” I had tapped the phone of the think tank across Mt. Auburn St. The fourth line in the “hunting group” would only ring when the other three lines were busy, and it had rung. The woman downstairs had gone into the basement alcove and answered the phone, and the jig was up. I felt bad.

Previous:Apology Next:The Pru


  1. Wonderful to read your reminisence about Ed Hood. I first switched on to him in 1988 after seeing My Hustler and Chelsea Girls. That voice, that mischievous mind. Sad to say I can quote verbatim entire sections of the dialogue from My Hustler. How different your lives were from mine. Brilliant.

  2. Loved your blog entry on Ed Hood. I was in My Hustler with Ed (we affectionately called him Edwina at the time) and was wondering if you might now where he is now as I would love to get in touch with him after all these years. My maiden name was Genevieve Charbin. I go by my married name of Genevieve Cerf. You can message me on Facebook if you get this.

    1. Name: Edward Mant Hood Jr
      Birth Date: 26 Jan 1936
      Death Date: 21 Mar 1982
      Cemetery: Elmwood Cemetery
      Burial or Cremation Place: Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama, USA

      He died in Cambridge – some say murder, some say a drug induced seizure

  3. Wow! The mysterious Ed Hood. I used to see him bak in the day cruising around the punk clubs and parties. I never knew much about him.

  4. Bill, Ray Holland here. No doubt Ed was the brightest man I ever knew. The most insane and I do not mean figuratively. Ed’s gone 35 years and I still think of him almost daily. I could and should write a memoir of Ed. Ed quit drinking in 77, but not the weed, coke or prescribed meds. I tried to quit. In 79 I went absolutely clean and sober; had to terminate any contact with Ed. Sober now 38 yrars. Wish I could have brought Ed with me. Thanks Bill.

    1. hello ray holland,
      this is aka joe rainbow. wow i can’t believe it i found you here.
      -i am in california.
      sad to loose ed hood but not surprised. he was something special.
      congrats on not drinking. hank williams sr.,

  5. I was friends with Ed. I remember his seizures. I loved his stories of ‘who’ he had photographs of lying naked on his Confederate flag bed cover. He was not murdered, I can assure you of that. He was going down hill pretty fast (even for Ed) during his last few years. I heard people raided his apt when he passed … to get rid of evidence of ‘whatever’ may have been compromising, but then again Ed loved urban legends.

    I knew Ed for years before we finally ‘got together’ in a complicatedly simple relationship. He and George Fennel were hanging around a downtown Boston bar around the same time. That creep David Brudnoy was around too, but he steered clear of me … I had his number (may he rot in hell).

    I know Ed would have been amused by this blog posting. He was a seriously good hearted guy, if he would allow you to see him. I was fortunate enough to get ‘close’ to him during a vulnerable time for both of us. I was saddened when I first heard of Ed’s demise, but sadly not surprised. thank you Bill.

    btw, have we ever met?


  6. I knew Ed Hood at the University of Minnesota during the school year 1956-57; I was just out of the Air Force and returning to school as a junior and Ed was working on his masters. We met in a class on Aristophanes in translation. Ed introduced me to Ezra Pound, which was a bit subversive since Pound was still in St. Elizabeth’s. Ed claimed to have studied Pound with Hugh Kenner, which seems unlikely since Ed graduate (I think) from Washington and Lee and Kenner was teaching at the University of California Santa Barbara in those days. Ed date the male leads in all the major dram department plays (Richard III, Finian’s Rainbow). Might add that Ed danced in the chorus line in Finian’s Rainbow. Ed’s father was upset that Ed was gay and consulted with Allen Tate who was considered an expert on homosexuals since he had known Hart Crane.

    Ed also got a draft notice and asked me what to do–since I had been in the service, I guess he thought I knew something about it. I advised that if he wanted a deferment, he would have to say he was gay. He paid a psychiatrist to write a letter to his draft board saying Ed was gay and in the psychiatrist’s care.

    In spite of all his sexual activity Ed got his master’s in one year and headed off to Harvard. I don’t know if he got a fellowship based on Tate’s recommendation or not. Ed and I corresponded for a few years after that before losing track. Ed was the only person I knew who could help me with writing poetry, and I think he could have made a fine editor of a literary magazine. Ed wrote that he was having an affair with a Howlie from Hawaii with a beautiful suntan–the young man attempted suicide and both of them consulted the same psychiatrist.

    After not hearing from Ed for many years, I was surprised to see him in “Chelsea Girls,” a film I saw when I visited New York in 1967. Not all dirty old men are old! All a long time ago.

    1. Thanks, Fred. I did not know, or had forgotten, that Ed went to Washington and Lee. I assumed he was an undergraduate at Harvard, an assumption I think he must have encouraged. Do you still have any of your correspondence with Ed?

      1. No, sorry but I don’t have any of my correspondence with Ed. From comments I’ve read on the web, he must have become a permanent grad student working on his PhD. At Minnesota he impressed me as a brilliant student but he did like big names, so I’m not surprised he got into the group around Andy Warhol. I’m not sure if the “father” who consulted with Allen Tate (Ed must have referred him to Tate) was a father or a step-father. Tate was a big name back then which is why I went to the University of Minnesota, but now Tate’s pretty much forgotten. Sometimes I feel I’m the only person who still reads Tate’s poetry.

  7. Oh my gosh. I am moving. I found among my old papers a transcript of an interview I typed up in perhaps 1975 or 1976. Is it permissible for me to point out a possible birthday discrepancy? Ed told me he was born on January 27, 1935. I met him when I was in Cambridge for a few days with Television, who was performing in Boston that weekend. (I was seeing the drummer, Billy.) I have some photos, too. I was working for Danny Fields at 16 magazine at the time. Danny saw the photos of Ed and laughed, since he knew him well from the Warhol days. If I can find the slides I took I will gladly share them. Jonathan Richman was there too, as well as Andy and Jonathan Paley. Perhaps my friend Mary Harron was there too? If I find the photos, which I should have safely stored, I will be glad to send them. This is a great blog, so glad to have discovered it while going through old papers and wondering-“what was this interview from?” The Paleys were so great and everyone loved them. They were staying at a very lovely big home with all kinds of art in the attic. They mentioned it to Mary and me. I got excited (art major) and asked if we could see it. I just remember going up to an attic filled with amazing art! There was at least one Rothko there! Some Hudson River school beauties. Maybe a Brancusi? That part is fuzzy. Oh my gosh, what a great weekend that was. OI think that Andy Paley is now an EMT working in Boston. What a nice person, both he and Jonathan were lovely.

    1. Yes, Fran, I also thought Ed was born in 1935 and was surprised to see the date 1936 on familysearch.org, which is where I got the information I posted. For my new, expanded page on Ed I would very much appreciate the opportunity to scan any material you would like to share.

      1. Hi there. I will be glad to email you a scanned copy of the interview. As soon as i find the pictures i will email them. We also had a spelling contest. I wish i could have known him as a friend. What a smart guy.

  8. Bill, I too, lived at 122 Mt. Auburn Street from 1976 to 1981. I knew Ed Hood quite well during that period. Your blog entry brought back a lot of good memories. I lived on the second floor in the back. I knew Jim Parry and his girlfriend (Sasha?), and Peter Bennet lived across the hall from me. Peter Wolf had moved out of the building just before I moved in, but I knew that basement apartment quite well. A woman named, Ann, lived above me. Steven Winfield also lived in the building. I remember a guy who lived on the third floor who had a dog named, Spot. I also knew Richard Russell and Bruce Man, both of whom lived on the 4 University Road side. I, of course, frequented the Blue Parrot and Casablanca.

    Ed Hood was quite a character in those days. Ed used to refer to himself as “Piss-Pot Pete.” When he introduced himself, he used to say, “I live below stairs” which described the physical architecture of his apartment in the building. Ed was a good friend of the Harvard poet, Robert Lowell. I remember the morning that Robert Lowell died, Ed was a mess and I found him crying on the steps in the hallway. He asked me to read Lowell’s poems to him. So, I went into Ed’s apartment, he handed me a book of Lowell’s poems, inscribed in the inside cover, “To my dear friend, Ed Hood,” and I read Lowell’s poems to Ed for a couple of hours while he cried.

    I do not recognize your name, but I wonder if you and I knew each other.


    1. Very interesting. Bill’s blog lives on. I met Ed Hood a few times, obviously a long time ago. I still remember what he looked like
      I was friends with Helanie, who lived in the same building.

        1. Hey Guys, The name, Helanie, certainly sounds familiar, but it’s been so long, it’s hard to say. Bill, I’m not sure which one of the group you were. Did you I know each other at the time?

  9. I left dear old Craigie Hall in 1974, Michael, so I don’t think we ever had a chance to get acquainted. When I saw Ed after that time it was usually at my apartment on Harvard Street or his new place on Mass. Ave., where he died.

    1. Wow, ships in the night, I guess. Apparently, our lives came close to overlapping. It sounds like you left the building shortly before I move in. It’s truly a small world. I find myself here in your blog through a circuitous chain of events. It started when I read an article that popped up on my home page about the famous people who have lived at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. I was fascinated, having been there myself a few times. In the article, Ed Hood was mentioned and pictured in a clip from the film, Chelsea Girls, which was, indeed, shot at the hotel. I hadn’t thought about Ed in years so, having read that he had been in that film and another, My Hustler, I was intrigued to read more about Ed’s past. I Googled his name and your blog came up. When I saw your post about 122 Mt. Auburn Street, I was overwhelmed with melancholy and I couldn’t resist contacting you. Dear Lord, what a strange world it is after all that you and I should cross paths (albeit online) all these years later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s