In the borough of Greenwich, on a damp winter’s night– a child is born. It is Christmas and the paternity ward where his mother lies is all but deserted. Most of the residents have gone home to be with their loved ones. A young woman twenty-five year of age lay on a hospital bed, tranquil, transformed by her experience of labor. She enjoys a candle lit dinner that’s been prepared by the nurses. Amongst the white sheets and sterilized instruments, in the dim light of her serene room he came into this world, quietly. His birth is not so significant–it is just another birth in a ward of a hospital, in a borough of a town, in a city called London.
She is a West African immigrant from Freetown, Sierra Leone. His Father is said to have been A Secret Society Elder, He had already fulfilled his purpose in this world and now walked amongst ghosts…
The boy is taken to live with his grandmother back home on “the Continent”. Enlightened as she was in the ways of the Ancients, he is given to the spirits, his soul cast into a well for safekeeping. At the age of two he and his mother move to New York. They spend some time first in Harlem before settling in the east Village.
Every Sunday they go to church where the boy sings with the choir and becomes indoctrinated in this new “faith”. Church does little to keep the young man from trouble, so he is soon transferred upstate to New York’s West Point Military Academy, there after several confrontations with authorities the conclusion is reached that he is not suited for military life and he is given back to the church. So at the ripe age of ten he is sent north to work on a farm in Massachusetts; An all boys’ school where hard work and religion are considered the only roads to salvation and a meaningful life.
A code of strict discipline is enforced and any resistance is met with swift and stern punishment. He joins the school Choir then spends the next four years touring the northeast. He sings Spirituals, Hymns, Show Tunes and Patriotic Anthems.
At 15 years old he returns to the continent, this time to the east … There he breaks from his baptized religion and is born again through sensory depravation and drug- induced hallucinations. This marks the beginning of a new spiritual journey. He then sets off and travels throughout Africa and Anatolia, but those tales are for another time…
On returning to New York, he starts his own record label and records and produces several albums, but his life is filled with the cliché elements of the modern rock star. He has come far from the days of the choirboy and is now singing praises to sex, drugs and rock and roll. After the disbandment of his group and the liquidation of the label he finds himself surrounded by the wretched lost souls of the city. He watches as they fall by the wayside, succumbing to drugs, sloth and all manner of vice. His self-esteem shattered, wandering New York in search of new inspiration, he takes a job at a flophouse. What better place to hide than amongst prostitutes. They are the custodians of society’s darkest secrets. Politicians, clergymen, husbands, commoners & kings all weep in their bosoms for want of love and salvation. But where there are secrets there is opportunity and some will do anything for power. Lies become the truth and lives are just commodities used as bargaining chips. Feelings of paranoia, isolation and distrust become second nature. Hostility is found in the smallest gesture. Life is feast or famine and when feeding at the trough of the dysfunctional, indigestion is a common problem. He did however find a muse: A beautiful young artist who would often whisper in his ear, “The greatest thing you will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
I am the nigger; the minstrel, the showman, the monster, the scoundrel, the troubadour, the soothsayer, the shaman, the fool and court jester… and I put it to you who label me. You see only what you want to see and it is this reflection eternal that have you lost in ecstasy, moving through this world at times with out care or thought Some times we just crash into things…“THEY STEP HEAVY AS IF ECHOS OF THEIR FOOTPRINTS COULD BE PRESERVED”
Photo By Anders Graver