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At the same time, the drug wave of the Sixties was lapping at the shore of popular culture. Thus far, Hate hadn't even been a drinker. "I was real straight," he said. "I grew up in the McCarthy era. No one did dope, not even weed."
Then one day in 1968, one of his colleagues at the Times offered to get him high. Hate says the experience left him stoned for three days. "I really liked it," he said.
A friend who he had worked with on the copy desk had quit the paper and moved to San Francisco and was trying to get Hate to move there, too. The idea appealed to Hate; New York was getting boring. "I realized it's gonna be the same thing the rest of my life," he said. "Plus other people were getting stoned. I just had a feeling there's more to life than Type A — have a job, pay rent, be successful, all that. I had a feeling there's some other way of operating. I got that from Thailand. ... Maybe I could live like that, too, a Third World kind of thing."
Around the same time, Hate's marriage to Lee was disintegrating. They broke up in 1970, and Hate took a month-long vacation to California to visit his friend. During his last week, they went up to Albion and hung out in the redwoods with a "bunch of freaks."
He had already tried mescaline once on the East Coast. This time, he tried psilocybin. Acid was next. The day before he was supposed to catch a plane and return to New York, he took his first tab. "Whoa, that was it," Hate said. "It was life-changing. I just felt connected to everything. Everything was funny. I just felt totally one with everything."
When he returned to New York, Hate's thinking had changed radically. He no longer wanted to live a conventional life, and that meant no longer working at the Times.
He discovered that there was a clause in the paper's contract that allowed severance pay for alcoholics. Hate would have been entitled to $5,000, which he needed to pay child support, and asked a friend in personnel if the clause might extend to "dope fiends."
At the same time, Hate was struggling with the strained relationship with his ex-wife. He saw her in a grocery store a few months after they had split. She wanted nothing to do with him. "It was awkward, uncomfortable," he said. Shortly afterward, she died of leukemia, and the experience clearly affected him. "C-A-N-C-E-R," he said, spelling out the letters. "I don't even like to say the word."
The minutiae of life at the Times and the painful memories of the breakup of his marriage continued to haunt him. One morning he woke to find he could not speak. "I had an emotional breakdown," he said. "I stopped speaking. I guess I felt something was just wrong with the language."
On another level, Hate knew that, just as words held power, not speaking was equally powerful.
One weekend while stoned at a street fair, Hate slipped and fell off of a fire hydrant and hurt his back. The next day he went to work to tender his resignation — without speaking. "I was already starting to get weird," Hate recalled. "I was wearing blue jeans. ... They thought I'd flipped."
Hate said his editors didn't want to give him severance lest it open the door for other stoners. Instead, they tried to fire him. In protest, Hate sat on the sidewalk in front of the Times building for seven hours the next day, barefoot and wearing blue jeans.
Eventually, a cop asked what he was doing, and when Hate didn't respond, the officer thought he was being snotty and dragged him inside the lobby. He remembers seeing two of his reflections in the double revolving doors. "It was like a movie-type image," he said, recalling the incident as though it happened yesterday.
When word reached the newsroom that a police officer was roughing up a Times reporter, the editors rushed downstairs. After telling the cop to let him go, they met with Hate in a room next to the lobby, where he finally broke his silence. He told them, "You can arrest me or put me in Bellevue mental, but when I get out I'm coming back here."
His editors relented. It took another three years to "slow down," as Hate put it, before he decided to leave New York for good.
"His decision to leave New York City followed a period of intense, personal turmoil," said Hate's sister Prudence. "His marriage ended, he had left his job as a reporter at The New York Times, and he had been in and out of a hospital for a full year following his having been hit by a drunk driver in the East Village. His taking control of the future was a good sign, and his choosing a completely new course just had to be a huge and courageous adventure."
In 1973, Hate moved to California, and never looked back.