Category Archives: Tales from the Archive

Tales from the Archive: The People’s Hall of Fame

Even silence reverberated off the walls of the auditorium as Frisner Augustin took his award. The New York Academy of Medicine, a 1926 Art Deco interpretation of the Romanesque on the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile, could hold more than … Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: Behind the Cemetery

M te rete nan dèyè simityè, nan Ri Flèry Batye. Ou konprann? M te rete nan mitan dèyè simityè a. M te rete nan mitan katye a. I lived behind the cemetery, on Rue Fleury Bathier. You understand? I lived … Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: I Love You, Èzili!

She’s a coquette, a spirit woman reportedly of fair complexion, although she’s been known to inhabit every hue. When she leaves the luster and magic of Ginen to take possession of a human medium—to the heartbeat of drums, the sweet … Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: The Spirits Ride the Boroughs

January 24, 1981. At last! I’ve gone to my first Voodoo [sic] ceremony….I met Frisner and Ken in the building Frisner used to live in in Manhattan….Ken had a pair of claves for me to use during the ceremony. I … Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: One Haitian Worm

Any other time, the rain twinkling like Christmas lights across the windshield would have enchanted me. Now, as we rode uptown toward Manhattan’s Columbia University, the image warned of trouble. Ten of us had crammed into Frisner’s green mini-van for … Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: A Trip to Vodou

The young artists fell into a philosophical tug-of-war with the recording engineer. Harry Leroy already boasted a history of recording some of the best Haitian musicians around. He knew his business. The artists of La Troupe Makandal, on the other … Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: The Spirit Rises in the Bronx

The subway ride to the Bronx felt endless. I usually rode to the house in Morris Heights with Frisner, but his van had gone ahead of me four days earlier. Since then it was marking time and waiting for its owner … Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: How to Mix Business with Pleasure

It seemed that Frisner and Makandal never got the distinction between work and play. Didn’t they know that in our modern era of discrete dichotomies (opposites that don’t mix), the distinction rules? We have a time to work and a … Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: Whining, Grinding, and a Lot of Gouyad

West Indian Carnival was probably the farthest thing from the minds of Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux when they designed the world’s first parkway: Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. At work on Prospect Park at the same time (circa 1866), … Continue reading

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Tales from the Archive: Fire Dancing in the Ballroom

Sometimes the line between the lurid and the divine is not so apparent. So I didn’t know how to react when Frisner told me we were doing a “voodoo” midnight show at a West Indian ballroom in Flatbush, that the … Continue reading

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