I got to the Bud Biliken Parade very early to scout things out. This came around a corner and took my breath away. From a distance she really did appear to be an apparition. As she came closer, I realized that she was selling the rings and bracelets on her arms and hands. But the fact of the matter is – her gear was persuasive for more than jewelry.
I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Brother Greg Tate while in New York. As usual he dropped some serious science about Sun Ra’s origins both earthly and celestial. He framed Birmingham, Alabama as a site in the South where west African Spiritual practices actively competed and dominated in influence over the souls of black folk. He suggested (more eloquently and coherently than I do here) that when one looks at the cultural climate in Birmingham, at the time that Herman Blount (yet to be Sun Ra) came of age, it’s clear that he would have been surrounded by people actively engaged with what we understand to be the occult. Young Sonny Blount was named after Black Herman the Magician, a practitioner of Yoruban rituals. Moreover, Sun Ra’s hostility towards Christianity can also be better understood if one considers that to this day Christianity, more so than Islam and certainly Buddhism actively attempts to obliterate indigenous belief systems, magic, and ritualistic practices that cannot be appropriated and absorbed by Christianity. I hope I can get Greg to log a comment on this, because he says it all so much better than I can.
So, I bought a very impressive copper and beaded ring from Madame. She graciously granted me a photo opportunity. She conceded she was an artist. But I felt it would be tactless to ask her about the superpowers she so clearly radiated! I asked her to please call me and let me interview her for my video. She said she might. I hope she does. I hope she does.
She says she goes from nail shop to nail shop selling stuff. If anyone sees her give me a tweet?