Day one. It’s thirty minutes into Monday. The woman next to me crosses her self and closes her eyes as the plane lands. Touch down. While a haggle of New York Jewish guys negotiate with a taxi driver I slip by and get in another cab to The Sugar Hill Harlem Inn. It’s a converted brownstone that keeps its history with pride. It’s near midnight. I take a walk round the block find a deli and a coffee. New York. I have arrived and by 1am I’m asleep.
I’m awake at six thirty am. With blurry eyes I catch the subway to midtown to meet my mother (pic on right) at Le Pain Quotidient. I’ve met her about twenty times through twenty five years. I ask her because I had to “did it happen”. She tells me things she never told before. I’ve asked before but I’ll never ask again. It did happen. She tells me things I can’t say here about how difficult it is to talk of it. She’s fun and I’m fun when I’m with her. It’s as good as it gets and I can’t ask for more.
Come noon with all this in mind I meet with Natasha and James, Tigerlilly’s producer and director respectfully. I tag along as they hunt locations in Harlem. Then we check in to Sylvia’s for lunch. Sylvia’s is a Harlem institution. Next we drop by The Shrine to meet Abiodun Oyewole Baba Tunde and Umar Bin Hassan – The last Poets. It’s a warm meeting. We catch up. We connect the dots and go through the next days shoot. Months ago Natasha at Tigerlilly asked if I wanted to do random acts after the success of the ones we’d previously done. Working with the last poets was what I wanted to do. They’ve made it happen. Here we are now. Tomorrow will be their gig in Harlem and my first. I’m new here.
Photo: l to r Umar Bin Hassan, Abiodun Oyewole Babatunde and me.