You want to fight, want to learn how to live, you got to learn the secret stories. – Andre
I’ve wanted to write about the folklore of homeless children in Miami ever since I started this blog, but I had no idea how I could make the subject more compelling, more interesting, more over-arching than the journalist, Lynda Edwards did when she broke the story back in 1997. Since then, endless speculation on the internet has led many to believe that most of Edwards’ account is fictional.
Living in South Florida for many years, I am inclined to believe that most of what she wrote is true. The South Florida community is an ethnic mix of peoples from the Caribbean and South America (many of whom also have roots in Africa and India), and the folk traditions and religions of those places (like voodoo and santeria and candomble and folk Catholicism) all have an influence on the culture of the area. Besides all this, though, much of the folk elements in these stories have been around in Euro-American folklore for a long time, just not synthesized in this way.
In the 1990’s when Edwards collected these stories, Miami was still recovering from the drug wars of the 1980s and the waves of immigration from Cuba and Haiti. Poverty, drug use, homelessness, and refugee issues were very real problems, and no doubt the children sought comfort in stories of supernatural aid, and purpose in suffering.
The mythology of these children is surprisingly Gnostic: God is banished, people are oppressed by Satan and the fallen angels, and a restrained goddess who seeks to reach the children to save them is continuously sought by the helpless.
He explains that Satan harbors a special hatred of Miami owing to a humiliation he suffered while on an Ocean Drive reconnaissance mission. He was hunting for gateways for his demons and was scouting for nasty emotions to feed them. Satan’s trip began with an exhilarating start; he moved undetected among high-rolling South Beach clubhoppers despite the fact that his skin was, as Phatt’s friend Victoria explains, covered with scales like a “gold and silver snake.”
Why didn’t the rich people notice? Eight-year-old Victoria scrunches up her face, pondering. “Well, I think maybe sometimes they’re real stupid so they get tricked,” she replies. Plus, she adds, the Devil was “wearing all that Tommy Hilfiger and smoking Newports and drinking wine that cost maybe three dollars for a big glass.” He found a large Hell door under the Colony Hotel, and just as he was offering the owner ten Mercedes-Benzes for use of the portal, he was captured by angels. . . Phatt says his dead cousin told him that as soon as water touched the Devil’s skin, it turned deep burgundy and horns grew from his head. The river itself turned to blood; ghostly screams and bones of children he had murdered floated from its depths. Just when the angels thought they had convinced Good Streets’ denizens that they were in as much danger as those in Bad Streets, Satan vanished through a secret gateway beneath the river. “Now he’s coming your way,” Ronnie warned. “You’ll need to learn how to fight.” – from Myths Over Miami, Lynda Edwards
The link to this remarkable article is here: Myths Over Miami, and will change your view of modern folklore forever.