Strange Tales from 1990s New Orleans

I’ve been working on a video project with a backstory so bizarre it couldn’t be anything but a classic New Orleans tale – something too strange to be fiction.

I have an album whose artists are to be found no where on the internet. Or rather, they come up only as some people who sang at a concert once or twice many years ago, listed under names that are clearly not “real” or “legal” names as most people in America would understand them (see “NymWars” if you are interested in the controversy concerning the issues over “real names” vs. “legal names” among the artistic and other segments of society). The album, being on a CD, is in danger of soon degrading and being lost forever and there is no where to purchase it that I can find anywhere.

So I decided to upload the songs onto youtube, making the video some pictures I’ve taken around town. The band was named “Cybersanctum”; the album named “Alchemy”, and the artists in question called themselves “Lorelei” (vocals) and “Pteran” (mostly forms of electronica). The songs seem to be mostly based in the neopagan ’90s culture with perhaps a bit of influence of ceremonial or “high” magic in the lyrics.

The odd backstory, however, is how I acquired the CD.

For a brief time I had this roommate. I will gently allow this person to remain unnamed, although certain friends of mine will read this and know exactly who I am talking about. He declared himself to be a high priest of Satan and spent a good deal of the 90s walking around wearing these rather fetching robes – black choir robes with flames licking about the bottom. He shaved his head and the entire rest of his body, so he told me once. I never asked why. I didn’t want to know.

For all of these personal oddities, he was actually a pleasant enough fellow; intelligent, insightful and talkative. I never saw him do anything violent or even raise his voice. He smiled a lot and if anything he just seemed rather… flaky. He seemed, absent the Satanic schtick, to just be a person who was sort of absent-minded. I can’t even recall any notable tattoos or piercings, although it would seem odd for anyone in the alternative culture to not have any at that time – if he had any, they were rather understated and not very flashy. He was rather thin and not very muscular. Also, he was usually broke.

It was for this reason he ended up being my roommate, needing a place to stay and promising to pay some nominal fee for a room in my tiny apartment. I didn’t ask for much. Needless to say, he didn’t pay up and after a few weeks he had to leave. Within that few weeks he began an affair with one of my close friends, which is one of the only reasons I let him stay as long as I did. How do you explain to your good friend you are making her hot new boyfriend homeless? So I got to sit in the next room ignoring them while not getting any money. Thankfully it didn’t take long for them to break up.

It was during these few weeks he came home one night and tossed a CD in my direction. “I really think this is more you than me, ” he said. This was, of course, the one under discussion in the post. I never found out where he got it and by now I’m sure he’s long forgotten himself. I played it and immediately fell in love with the songs. He was totally right about my musical taste, of course.

The postscript: decades later, he is still in town and works at some club specializing in terribly kinky things that I won’t even walk into. And he still manages to affect our life in bizarre ways. We had another roommate the other year. One day we were checking our network and saw some oddly named computer hooked into it – “666”. We asked her about this. “Oh yeah,” she said, “I bought this laptop from him. That’s what he named it.”

Of course he did.

Here’s the first of the uploads from the album: