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"There's a lot of killing going on in Miami," he says. "You want to fight, want to learn how to live, you got to learn the secret stories."
January 10, 2002 6:59 PM   Subscribe

"There's a lot of killing going on in Miami," he says. "You want to fight, want to learn how to live, you got to learn the secret stories." Homeless children build hope and community through a shared mythology which includes demons, spirits, a beautiful guardian, and a harbinger of death named Bloody Mary. Via Snarkout
posted by frykitty (21 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh wow.

Back in my geeky roleplaying days, I wrote an RPG with this exact same theme: God is missing, presumed dead, (unknown to the PCs, he was thwarted in his attempt to return to earth in physical form for the second time, and roams the world unable to remember who he is) and the forces of light and darkness now duke it out in a covert war (that sometimes spilled over into the earthly plane) over possession of the sould of the newly dead. Inspired, believe it or not, by that 'What If God Was One Of Us?' song.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:41 PM on January 10, 2002


God, I was such a nerd.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 8:02 PM on January 10, 2002


this is a great story though, and it just sticks with you, the thought of this whole elaborate mythology passed from child to child, each with the smallest of talismans against the horrors around them. and you have to wonder, years later, what has happened to these kids...
posted by judith at 8:08 PM on January 10, 2002


What judith said. Terrific link - thanks frykitty.
posted by pascal at 9:47 PM on January 10, 2002


next they will be wanting to march on the holy land.
posted by clavdivs at 9:52 PM on January 10, 2002


Just keep `em away from the Accutane.
posted by dong_resin at 10:01 PM on January 10, 2002


Thanks to Snark, really.

The story brought up images of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Children left to their own devices create a fascinating world. All children play make-believe, but for these kids it must become real--it is the fabric of their lives and what they depend upon.

In the absence of God...
posted by frykitty at 10:19 PM on January 10, 2002


In the absence of God...

frykitty, is that the beginning of a quote? If so, I'm curious about it.
posted by lbergstr at 10:28 PM on January 10, 2002


1) This is fascinating stuff- it's like a window into the human mind, seeing how the kids basically invented a religion for themselves. Somewhere, the ghost of Joseph Campbell is smiling...

2) And people wonder why I'm an athiest/agnostic...

3) The homeless children's chief ally is a beautiful angel they have nicknamed the Blue Lady. She has pale blue skin and lives in the ocean
Blue Lady, Blue Fairy- pretty damn close, if you ask me. The homeless kids could sue Spielberg for a part of the A.I. grosses!

4) This is pretty heart-rending; it's amazing how resilient children can be in the face of hardship, how they can keep themselves together even better than many adults, though it may require great imagination and faith. But admiring that ability doesn't make it less tragic, less depressing. I wonder what has happened to most of these kids? Sadly, probably few have escaped from the viscious cycle of poverty...

5) That sense of mission, writes Harvard psychologist Robert Coles in The Spiritual Life of Children, may explain why some children in crisis -- and perhaps the adults they become -- are brave, decent, and imaginative, while others more privileged can be "callous, mean-spirited, and mediocre."
So true, so true.

6) Phatt insists that his beloved cousin (and only father figure) Ronnie, who joined the U.S. Army to escape Liberty City and was killed last year in another city, warned him about what happened next at the river. (Ronnie was gunned down on Valentine's Day while bringing cupcakes to a party at the school where his girlfriend taught. He appeared to Phatt after that -- to congratulate him on winning a shelter spelling bee, and to show him a shortcut to his elementary school devoid of sidewalk drunks.)

I'm going to go cry now. Excuse me.
posted by hincandenza at 10:47 PM on January 10, 2002


frykitty, is that the beginning of a quote?

Not as far as I know. I was just riffing on Voltaire's "If God did not exist, we would have to invent Him."
posted by frykitty at 10:56 PM on January 10, 2002


frykitty: Thank you for your link to this story.

I have a number of friends (social workers who deal every day with kids in similar straits) who will appreciate knowing these myths because they may be able to use the myths to help the kids.
posted by realjanetkagan at 10:57 PM on January 10, 2002


Blue Lady, Blue Fairy- pretty damn close, if you ask me. The homeless kids could sue Spielberg for a part of the A.I. grosses!

Actually, as snarkout notes in his corresponding write-up, Blue Lady/Fairy is from Pinocchio. In A.I., the robot child related to that story since he realized he was a puppet like Pinocchio and went looking for the Blue Fairy to make himself in to real boy. So, alas, there will be no suing of Spielberg.

This article is so poignant and what these kids have created says so much about the lives they have had to lead. I'm sure many of us created our own fantasy worlds when we were growing up (I was a Princess in Oz), and therein lies much material for psychologists and sociologists. Sometimes I hear about kids that don't use their imaginations and I feel very sad for them.

Thanks for the great link, frykitty and snarkout.
posted by girlhacker at 11:07 PM on January 10, 2002


I see Roman Catholic roots, as described in The Virgin Mary has a variety of names. Jesus' mother wears blue and is called the Star of the Sea.

While it is wonderful that these children are making their own myths, who ever thought that the streets of America would be filled with homeless children? It's time we look at the consequences of abandoning orphanages.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:05 AM on January 11, 2002


Very moving and very sad, this will stay with me for quite a while. It's also one of the most haunting myths I've ever come across.

I pray the fighting angels never drop their guard.
posted by spinifex at 6:18 AM on January 11, 2002


I see Roman Catholic roots

It's really interesting that both the Blue Lady and the Bloody Mary legends circulating in this group feature close links to the Virgin Mary. The idea that the Virgin would lead a rebellion in Heaven is fascinating and weird (and chilling). I've never seen that story anywhere else--have any of you?
posted by redfoxtail at 6:38 AM on January 11, 2002


This kids tell a cosmic tale of madness (God), betrayal by loved ones (Bloody Mary), and the forces of darkness rampaging unchecked (demons and Satan). I think that the core of these tales can be seen as a reflection of the real world that these kids inhabit every day.

But like others in this thread, I wonder at the ability of children to create such detailed myths. Its almost epic in scale. There is some very powerful imagery described. The description of Bloody Mary is just chilling. I had that whole goose bump/lump in the throat going on as I read it(and I'm an atheist). Just imagine believing that that thing is after you.

What I find most interesting is the belief that Bloody Mary is the Virgin, and that she also killed her child, which would mean that she killed Jesus. Since I noticed that Jesus was never mentioned by any of these kids, do they think that Jesus is dead?
posted by thewittyname at 7:37 AM on January 11, 2002


> I'm sure many of us created our own fantasy worlds
> when we were growing up (I was a Princess in Oz),

You keep good company, girlhacker. Ozma and Dorothy were (are) two of my very most admired people and I'm sure I learned as much about courage and persistance from them as I ever did from Frodo and company. (Though it was Glenda I wanted to date, heh.) P.S. if there's anybody who insists on seeing the real Oz in a movie instead of reading the books, ignore poor Judy Garland, who looks no more like Dorothy than I do, and go straight for Return to Oz. This one's as true to the books as this year's Harry Potter and FOTR were.

Whoops, sorry topic drift'r'us...
posted by jfuller at 7:42 AM on January 11, 2002


realjanetkagan: I'd be interested to know whether your friends already know about the mythology; perhaps they are reticent to appropriate something so intimate and
important to the kids, and feel that the stories are more use if they are uniquely owned by the kids themselves?
posted by sennoma at 8:43 AM on January 11, 2002


Blue Lady, Blue Fairy- pretty damn close, if you ask me.

I see Roman Catholic roots, as described in The Virgin Mary has a variety of names. Jesus' mother wears blue and is called the Star of the Sea.


That theme appears in various cultures. Take a look at the Starbucks' Coffee logo -- a mermaid with a star on its crown. It's the Santeria/Ifa sea goddess Yemanja, or Yey Omo Eja, "mother whose children are the fish" (and fish are a symbol of Jesus, heh heh heh). Yemaya is associated with (and probably sprung from the same prehistoric source as) the Egyptian Aset/Isis, whose color is blue, and who as the mother of Heru-sa-Aset was depicted in mother-and-child scenes very much like later Christian ones.

The evolution of mythology is pretty neat stuff.

We have a great Brazilian restaurant in St. Louis called Yemanja Brasil... great food, greater drinks, happy Brazilian music, and more than a few images of star-crowned blue-gowned women.
posted by Foosnark at 10:05 AM on January 11, 2002


In New Mexico, much of the native american and hispanic mythology seemed intertwined, which may have watered down some of the stories. Everyone knew who Bloody Mary was and believed tentatively that one could conjure her up in a mirror, but only the hispanic kids believed she would follow you or strike you down anywhere. And La Llorona was a different entity--just a figure of mourning. You could hear her weeping by the river every night ...

This is interesting. The kid's drawings are great.
posted by whatnot at 12:17 PM on January 11, 2002


marginalia: "I suspect this is why the article [above] has resurfaced in blogdom."
posted by todd at 5:30 PM on January 15, 2002


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