“Teaspoon” — or “Spoon,” as he refers to himself — sits on a set of concrete steps on the corner of 35th and Wright streets in Metcalfe Park. Spoon’s thin, medium-length dreadlocks, his rust-colored eye whites, rough, workman’s jacket and well-worn clothes distinguish him, yet he seems in place.
“Life is not what it is; life is what it’s about,” he says. “You grow up and … you’ve gotta be whatever. Your momma help you, your daddy help you, but, at the same time, you gotta do the best you can do. You gotta survive. Life is all about survival.”
Spoon, who was born and grew up in Milwaukee, works in construction. “I’m a builder. And, I’m good at it. My hand … look at my hand,” he says, in what sounds like a thick Jamaican accent. “This is a hand that fix stuff, and build stuff.”
“If you build a car, then you have a car to drive. If you build a house, you have a place to live. Buildin’ is the source of life. Without buildin’, ain’t no life.”
Building creates life, which is communicated through experience, the 52-year-old says. “Everybody’s supposed to learn from their experience.”
“That’s what life is.”
“Every day when I wake up and I look at the TV, and I look at the news, I see people killing each other and everything. I wonder, ‘What the fuck goin’ on? Why we doing this?’” says Teaspoon. “Why?”
Spoon’s family is a large one. “The color of skin … are the colors of our eyes,” he says. “You’re all my brother, and I am your brother. If you accept it, you accept it. But brothers is not color of skin; brother is blood.”
And, to him, it simply doesn’t make sense to travel through life afraid. “Me, I’m not fearful. I will never [be] fearful,” Spoon says. “You eat to live, and you live to die. Fear ain’t here no more.”
Teaspoon says he’s been fortunate, and his desire and hope is to share that fortune, to spread it. “My god, he bless me,” he says. “I’m blessed. I’m not homeless; I’ve not got to beg nobody for no meal. I’m nothin’, so I’m blessed. And, I wish I could give many people meals.”
“I really want to … see if I could elevate myself [so] I could help people that’re less fortunate than me. That’s what I really want to do,” says Spoon. “You got a lot of people out here [that] smoke drugs and everything. And, guess what? They so scared — they so fucking scared. And, they have so much potential, but they’re losing.”
“In my father’s house, there are many mansions. I’ve gone to prepare a place; that’s where I am, you will be there also — that’s what Jehovah and god said,” Teaspoon recites. “He gone to prepare a place, that’s where he is. You will be there also. If it wasn’t so, he would not have said so. It’s all about love, man. Love — that’s all it’s about.”
While Spoon sits, another man approaches. “What’s goin’ on with you, brother?” the man asks.
Teaspoon greets him with an embrace and a blessing: “Praises to Allah.”
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