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Written back in 2005 to an old friend I’d re-connected with online in the Synanon Yahoo Group. Not much polish on this one…just a few updates.

Warning: It’s a tad crude and not recommended reading for the faint-at-heart.

Bernie Kolb and I got to know each other over the course of a few years as we’d commiserate online about our respective battles with opiates spanning several decades and the victory from active addiction. He was a friend and a brother. I miss him. We were both nocturnal animals and would oft times keep the midnight oil burning in the Synanon Questions Funhouse, long after everyone else had gone to bed.  He was a funny and gracious man with a heart of gold. 

Note the recommended dosage. Excuse me? Not acceptable.


OK Bernie. You get one more Demerol story. Here goes. Just the facts ma’am. All killer, no filler. This is how I was introduced to the “W”‘s

(Demerol originally manufactured by Winthrop)

Dateline San Francisco–1977

Managing the Sutro House Sandwich Shoppe up on Clement street in the raucous City By The Bay, San Francisco was all about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll…not necessarily in that order. Working in that restaurant was a good gig as everyone seemingly was in party mode. Of course, that wasn’t really the truth as Chess players don’t hang with Hockey players. That’s where I met the love of my young life…Jane Marie Wong. The disease did not seem to be a disease yet. Unbeknownst to moi’,  it was, but at that point it was also fun. Amen? Ok, Ok… so this Dentist, Francis W… comes into the shop one day and starts up a conversation. Having just tooted a couple of lines of primo blow behind the counter during the height of the lunch rush hour, the Hurls was in a talkative mood. We hit it off. Over the course of a few months we get to know each other. He leaves his dentist business card every time he comes in for a humongous, Sutro Sized sandwhich we use to sling for $1.75. They were the absolute bomb and blew away anything offered by Tubby or Quiznos today. It was a sultry, sexy city. Chronic weed and coke flowed & fell like water over Niagra Falls. Many would eventually do just that…fall hard, including this Irishman, but I was so stuck on stupid that I’d not see it for decades.

Anyhoo, a few months down the line, I left the Sutro House after being hired into my first civil service gig at the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Oakland California.  Now ensconced as a Civil Servant Swine At The Trough Of The Taxpayers Who Are Taking It In The Ass at the hands of my evil, corrupt AFSCME union, it was a very good Gig with great bennies Bernie… 80/20 Dental… no limits! Straight Up! Nirvanna for an expatriate from the Motor City with Junkie Teeth. Right On. Good Word my brother… get your motor rumblin’. Of course, I waited until the pain became so excruciating that it was time to act. Now the Dental office is upstairs at the corner of Clement & … shit, I don’t remember… anyway, it was right across the street kitty-korner from my former employer.  After calling for an appointment, I demanded to speak with Francis as the receptionist apparently did not realize who she was talking to. Where is that number from Francis…Riiiiing! “Hey dig this bro, my choppers & grill need some serious work my man”  Francis gets on the line and sez;  “Ah yes Tim..velly goodYou come see me and I fix you up today with no co-pay!” Now that was more like it. The first thing meeting your vision when walking into his office suite was a pool table in the waiting room and two of the finest young female Asian assistants I’d ever seen. That was all I needed.


In the chair Francis is looking through my ravaged oral boneyard, seeing velly good potential for some serious benjamins… the nitrous hissing… that fine girl… brushing her white nylon-ed thigh against the arm of the chair where my hand is resting… no choice but to reach my hand farther to the edge of the arm…contact made on more than one level…not caring…the gas is transcendent..very surrealistic… swirling fantasies abounding….floating on a cloud of gas…then, pop!

Gas Off. Sit Up. Velly serious news from Francis who informs me that there is much work to be done. Eying his assistant in the most 23 year old lascivious manner possible… I say,No Problemlet’s do it

In a nanosecond, the beast rises and the THE DOPE FIEND MIND KICKS IN – ENGAGING LIKE AN AUTO-PILOT ON A JET. See? That’s how we are! It’s not enough to have a POOL TABLE IN THE WAITING ROOM… NOOOO…IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO HAVE JUST BEEN SERVICED BY THE MOST GORGEOUS ASIAN DENTAL ASSISTANT IN ALL OF SAN FRANCISCO! OH NO MY FRIEND… IT’S NOT ENOUGH THAT FRANCIS IS GOING TO MAKE SO MUCH BREAD OFF MY CORRODED CHOPPERS THAT HE’S WILLING TO WRITE OFF ANY CO-PAYS!  No, I smell an opportunity for DRUGS! Like a dog in heat chasing a Good Humor Ice Cream Truck, I morphed into a foaming and rabid vampire snarling for its next angry fix. With the cherub mug of a Catholic alter boy, I was one slick mofo… a real legend in my own delusional hubris with one of the best jobs in the East Bay. BUT NO! THAT’S NOT ENOUGH! There was a french connection and score to be made of the pharmaceutical  variety. First things first. Amen? 

After the initial exam it was time to engage and Do The Dance.

Hey Francis… dig this man, I’ve got a real low threshold for pain and a high tolerance for drugs. That sissy acetaminophen or Motrin is just unacceptable and won’t cut it at all. I’m going to need some serious, Schedule II pain relief… or I’ll have to go somewhere else“.

Bernie, you should have been there to see his countenance turn a whiter shade of pale. Francis went from a tanned Asian to northern Michigan-Caucasian in a blink of the eye.

Oh no Timmy… I take real good care of you!”

Cool metro. Whatcha’ got in mind… for today?

Never mind he had only done an exam…


Ok, Ok… have you ever taken Demerol? It is non-addictive.

“Really? Well bless your heart and set it out my man!”

Ok, you keep coming back and we take care of you. Take this prescription down the street to Walgreens where my cousin is the pharmiscist. He’ll fill it with no questions asked 

(Note: The Asisan community just about ran everything there was to be run back-in-the-day in San Francisco)

From that day on for the next two years, we had an understanding… a contract was established. No matter the reason for the visit, be it root canals… extractions or a cleaning that was not really needed, the Hurls walked out with a script for at least 16, 50 mg. Demerol tabs. Good times. No wonder Michelle Jackson went for those. He sure knew his dope…or not, cuz’ it killed his ass.  Most times I’d run through em’ in 24 hours. Suffice to say, as many dental appointments were made for any real or imagined “crisis”…many of them on Friday to float through a weekend.

Now living by Lake Merced in a nice apartment with Jane Marie Wong (she went on to a career with the San Francisco Police Department. It probably never would have worked out, but we’ll never know), life was very good indeed. Now these towers were not of the Chicago Cabrini Green variety. These were nice cribs. Rent for a 2 bedroom apartment fetched $600.00…and that was in 1976. Lord only knows what they would cost today. We were madly in love and put the “P” in passion. No drama, no melt-downs, no bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, we had our spats, but they were of the normal lover’s quarrels kind and easily resolved and nothing pathologically nutso like I’d experience at a much more later juncture on the highway. As has been the pattern of my life, 80% of our beefs emanated from my use of substances. Even at the young age of 23, drugs got me higher than the towers at Lake Merced. We had our apartment on the 1st floor.  That was a good thing, as ascending any higher may have been problematic some nights.

Note: Many of you privately contacted me about Jane. Well, here she is. These two shots were taken atop the RenCen during a visit to Motown. Jane was so smokin’ hot, I had to wear sun screen and sunglasses in her presence. She’s the one that got away, though marrying up to Kelly who I would meet just 4 years later produced two of the finest sons any man could have.  No regrets there. The other picture (seated left to right) is my oldest brother Tommy, Janey, Moi’, Mom & Grandma Krier…with a not-so-mild buzz on. We were some terminally hip & fatally cool cucumbers as evidenced by the threads and Ray Bans)

Her dimples wrecked me

Tommy & I resplendent in full Miami Vice shirts & slacks

Lake Merced Towers where Jane & I lived on the ground floor

I’d take those old funky SF Municipal Railway electric jobbies from Lake Merced through the Telegraph Hill tunnel all the way downtown to the trans-bay terminal every morning  to go to work in Oakland at the wastewater treatment plant. We had our own version of “The Pretender” going. “Gonna pack my lunch in the morning, And go to work each day, And when the evening rolls aroundI’ll go on home and lay my body down, And when the morning light comes streaming in, I’ll get up and do it again, Amen, Say it againAmen.” In fact, Jane & I not only fell in love with each other but also in love with the music of Jackson Browne. We first caught him live on his “Running On Empty” tour at the Concord Pavilion in 1977. I use to take her to Winterland (rock’s version of Caligula) all the time. Her family never really went for this gringo. They thought the Hurls was a bad influence. Imagine that. The absolute noive of them! Sheesh. How discriminatory! We didn’t care. Janey was a smart little chick who never took any shit from me and could dish out some serious licks, which I found very amusing at the time. We met when she’d come in to the restaurant to see her boyfriend Jerry who was a busboy at the Sutro House. We’d flirt like mad. One day she came in when Jerry wasn’t working and stuck around to help me “close down” the restaurant. At that time, I had just turned 21 and she was a senior at St. Mary’s High School. Walking in with her plaid, Catholic School Girl skirt (rolled up the way you girls know how to do it), knee socks and white blouse, knees would turn to jello, the tummy would fill with fluttering butterflys and I was smitten. To this day, a fetish for plaid skirts remains. I s’pose I’m not alone as (I’m told) some strippers wear em’ as a part of their act. How revolting. Janey was an innocent and intelligent young lady who had a fetish for the Irish. Nothing wrong with that. C’mon…who could blame her? Anyway, after several private restaurant “closings”, I told the owner, Ted Sauer that we needed a new busboy and to replace Jerry. Men can be such ruthless pricks.

But I digress…again.

One morning, after a Demerol night of around 600 recreational mg’s, I was on my way to work, going through that big tunnel… coming out near the Castro District… car lurching to a stop… my stomach lurching it’s breakfast in an opiate bath… nausea washing over in waves…I jumped up to get off … fighting through the mass of humanity…Oh yeah baby… it was game on… pushing through the crowded car feeling the swell from the bell… oh God, I feel it coming up… gotta’ get out of here… stomped on the step… doors flew open… a startled mass of humanity in rush hour mode mobbed together near the doors, jockeying for position to get on the already crowded streetcar… looking up as I step from the 1st Step to the ground… with the opiate explosion of puke literally spraying from my tight-clenched mouth… unable to contain it… one step above the crowd now… a look of horror overtaking them…AS THAT LAST STEP WAS MADE, A SIMULTANEOUS ERUPTION OF PUKE AND BILE SPRAYS FROM MY ORAL ORIFICE  WITH SUCH A VELOCITY THAT IT HITS ABOUT TEN PEOPLE WAITING TO GET ON. IT WAS GREAT! THIS HORRID STREAM OF NON-STOP VOMIT PARTING THEM LIKE IT WAS THE RED SEA… WITH MAJOR COLLATERAL DAMAGE.

Oh Bernie… they were so pissed… all these yup-dogs in business suits with regurgitated yellow orange juice and French toast puke now added to their clothing… it was hysterical… the horror, the horror. None of em’ would touch me cuz’ it was so FUCKING DISGUSTING… They just stood there frozen in shock… women with the horror of their “Charlie” having been diluted by my liquid Manson… from the depths of the belly of this honk… others cursing and stammering… furtively trying to clean it up with handkerchiefs… all the time, I’m bent over… some 10 feet away… HURLING MY HURLEY GUTS… BLOWING COOKIES ALL OVER THE CEMENT… RETCHING… CONVULSIVE SPASMS FROM THE LOWEST DEPTHS OF MY GUTS AND SOUL IT JUST WON’T STOP!

OH GOD… I’LL BE GOOD… I PROMISE TO NEVER DO THIS AGAIN!”… BLAHGH, HAWWOORGH… spittle spittle , wipe wipe… hurl some more … Whew, what a morning. Suffice to say I found a phone booth, called in to work, went home and took some more Demerol.

That’s the real glory of drugs. Kids, do not attempt to try this at home or on any form of mass transit. Well on my way to a life of broken promises, shattered dreams, jails, institutions and near death…a vile swine of a pig outside the grace, mercy and love of our Father-I was clueless as to what the future held. At the time…looking at the crowded platform of shocked commuters sprayed with my vomit, my only thought was, What’s their problem?” 



  1. Jeff Bell says:

    You do write well, really well. What a great story! By the way, I clicked on this because the link said rest in piece Bernie Kolb. Did he just graduate? I never actually liked him when we all lived in the “Funny Farm” together, but I have had lots of people tell me that he actually turned into a decent human being long after Synanon. While we were all there I experienced him as an officious little prick, who suffered from “short person’s syndrome”, and often abused his power whenever he was given any to exercise. Oh well.

    Lots of people were that way, even me on occassion, though, thank God, I rarely had any power over anyone else at all. I am grateful for that, or I’m sure I would have a lot more Kharma than I already have to try and work off.

    Anyway, I have long since foregiven most of the peole who abused their power in that wacko environment. (Not all, but most.)

    Have you read any of the work of Gabor Mate? You might find his book, “In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts” to be a good read. Take care!

  2. Tim Hurley says:

    Bernie is now home with the Lord. Thanks for the writing props Jeff. Yeah…we are all little pricks while in the Funhouse. The very nature of Synanon dictated grace, mercy, love and care always be sprinkled with a dash of prick.

    • looski says:

      Is that you, Hurley. If you are the Tim Hurley I remember, then you should remember the Mick Fleetwood’s drum lick in “Go Your Own Way.”How about the Wells Fargo crowd making their way over to the Sutro House for roast beef on French rolls? Or Bucky and Ted taking it seriously?

      • HURLCO says:

        Mark? OMG Dude! How did you come across this? Long time no rave! Yep…it’s me. The drum lick from “Go Your Own Way” The wells Fargo crowd. Remember Felix at the Bank of the Orient? Ted & Jay…the Sauer Bros tying on heater after heater while trying to run the Sutro House. Gosh…memories rushing in like a torrent from that early seventy daze. Good to hear from you. Let’s hook up Looski. It was great to hear from you.

  3. jeni g says:

    Thanks for ruining my Pad Thai. That was brilliant. Seriously. But, uh, if you’re going to objectify women of asian descent, at least be grammatically proper. People are asian. Things (as is in rugs) are oriental.

  4. Tim Hurley says:

    As long as you didn’t “hurl” your Pad Thai, glad to have added some spice to your din-din with a dash of humor. As for the objectification tip, and if it’s any consolation–my objectifying of women at 23 was fairly ecumenical in that they were all objectified…except Jane. She was my beeotch. On that sexist note, thanks for the feedback. I did replace oriental with Asian in the ONE time it was used. Thanks Jeni…you are the absolute bomb of bombs.

  5. Jason says:

    Great writing, Tim. Keep up the good work. Very glad you’re clean. And very glad you’re sharing your new life in the Father’s grace.
    As for the comment above, check out this song from the musical “Avenue Q.”

  6. Jim McCombe says:

    Great Read Tim. I really know that feeling you had on the trolly car.I have been that way many times myself. Hell of a dentist.
    Love the whole story keep them coming.

  7. Tim Hurley says:

    Reblogged this on hurlco and commented:

    Rick likes this one. That’s enough reason to re-blog

  8. Kelly says:

    Another jolt of reality… Mr. Hurley your words transcend the page…

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