Friday, January 30, 2009

The Psychic Connection

When I first started to work on Rikers in 1989, I met Mason. He was about 30 years old but had no teeth. His hair was thick and classically shaped by the inmate barbers. Inmate barbers are literally the cutting edge. They are the point men of fashion or as they phrased it, they are on Avenue A (the front line). Mason's skin was smooth and if it wasn't for the small blue teardrop tattooed beneath is right eye, he would have looked much younger. The tattoo was in memory for a close friend or enemy who had been killed. Mason could neither read nor write but he never forgot anything. His memory was uncanny. He never forgot a movie he had ever seen, a television show, every piece of music and every lyric. He could repeat long passages from the bible and sermons that he had heard. More than remembering, he could also process the information and draw his own conclusions. His conclusions were sophisticated and erudite. His opinions were developed as a result of several different pieces of data he heard from different sources. People thought that he was stupid because he was illiterate but his memory was remarkable. However, Mason also told me about aliens, little green men who visited him in his cell. I listened, Then he told me stories about the affairs of celebrities who were having marital troubles, who was having drug problems, who would soon be indited for illegal activities, and who was going to jail. Since these events had not been reported, I took it about as seriously as the stories about the little green visitors. But every time there was a newspaper report of the event Mason had predicted, he brought me a newspaper article confirming the story.
Mason never predicted lottery numbers or stock tips but he was not wrong on the messages he did get from wherever.