The same David Moles post that pointed me to the Joe Abercrombie piece on fantasy writing also contained a passing reference to “Myths Over Miami,” a 1997 Miami New Times article about a bleak new mythology taking root among street kids:
To homeless children sleeping on the street, neon is as comforting as a night-light. Angels love colored light too. After nightfall in downtown Miami, they nibble on the NationsBank building—always drenched in a green, pink, or golden glow. “They eat light so they can fly,” eight-year-old Andre tells the children sitting on the patio of the Salvation Army’s emergency shelter on NW 38th Street. Andre explains that the angels hide in the building while they study battle maps. “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.” The small group listens intently to these tales told by homeless children in shelters. On Christmas night a year ago, God fled Heaven to escape an audacious demon attack—a celestial Tet Offensive. The demons smashed to dust his palace of beautiful blue-moon marble. TV news kept it secret, but homeless children in shelters across the country report being awakened from troubled sleep and alerted by dead relatives. No one knows why God has never reappeared, leaving his stunned angels to defend his earthly estate against assaults from Hell. “Demons found doors to our world,” adds eight-year-old Miguel, who sits before Andre with the other children at the Salvation Army shelter. The demons’ gateways from Hell include abandoned refrigerators, mirrors, Ghost Town (the nickname shelter children have for a cemetery somewhere in Dade County), and Jeep Cherokees with “black windows.” The demons are nourished by dark human emotions: jealousy, hate, fear.
The leader of the demons who chased God from heaven is said to be Bloody Mary, a well-known creature of urban legend who can be summoned by chanting her name in front of a mirror. According to the Times article, the street kids have given the legend a new twist: in the most secret of their secret stories, Bloody Mary is revealed to be the Virgin Mary, now turned inexplicably to the side of evil.
I’d heard about “Myths Over Miami” before—thanks to the Internet, the article has become something of a legend itself—but I’d never read it until just now. And maybe it’s just because Shattered Glass was on TV over the weekend, but my initial reaction is one of skepticism.
Take that line in the paragraph quoted above: “[H]omeless children in shelters across the country report being awakened from troubled sleep and alerted by dead relatives.” Who exactly did they report this to? As a journalist, what source do you go to to find out what homeless kids “across the country” are hearing from their dead relatives? Particularly when, as the article also claims, “The ‘secret stories’ are carefully guarded knowledge, never shared with older siblings or parents for fear of being ridiculed—or spanked for blasphemy.”
I did a Google search to see if I could find any critical reviews of the article but came up empty. Which is odd, because I’d expect professional folklorists to be fascinated by this. Anyone out there have any links I missed?