Friday, March 28, 2008


"I don’t know what you know and you don’t know what I know but together we have a whole lot of know," Black Cherokee.

I usually hate driving on the FDR to get into Manhattan. It is usually backed up with traffic to the point of insanity, but just when I am about to karate chop the guy in the car next to me, I see Black Cherokee's "art" installations and everything is right in the world again, or at least for the next 1/2 mile. Usually one might mistake his "crazy-ass visions" as just garbage on the side of the road but to him, and to many commuters, it is art.

Otis Houston Jr, aka Black Cherokee, has been putting together makeshift displays for at least the past ten years on the southbound side of the FDR at 125th St, underneath the entrance of the Triborough Bridge. Originally, Houston came to New York from South Carolina in the 70's and spent '76 in jail for dealing cocaine. A few years later, he was shot twice in the back. In 1984, he returned to prison for heroin, where he read books, took art classes, and became a vegetarian. And from what I have been able to piece together, he was released in 1992 and may or may not be homeless...I'm thinking he is though.

His art is really something you have to experience for yourself. Some of his work might deal with current events. After the Columbine shootings, he laid fifteen yellow tulips, one for each person killed, on a plank supported by paving stones. When New York City police officer John Kelly died while chasing a man on a motorcycle, Houston found a print of Jesus and framed it with a motorcycle tire.

Some of his work is his own social commentary like when he put up a big sign that read “Got Debt? Live Well, Eat Better, Spend Less“. And another which was a small sign that simply read "Try". Sounds like a page out of Yoko Ono's portfolio.

And then there is some of his work that is just bizarre, like four blue strollers upside down in a puddle, twenty-three bottles of juice in a row, a white stuffed carnival gorilla in a beach chair and one, that I had the privilege of seeing, a baby doll sitting in a chair with a pink suitcase to her left and palm tree to her right. But the coup de grace would have to be him standing in the middle of hundreds of books that have been stacked into a makeshift fortress. He had books strapped all over his body like a suit of armer, shaking his arms and pointing violently at the traffic that passed. No clue to what that means but whenever I see his "art" it makes me smile and wish that I could live that freely (without being homeless of course).

But you can not pigeon hole Black Cherokee to entertaining passerbys with just art. Morning commuters are regularly treated to the sight of B.C. exercising. Sometimes shadowboxing, sometimes yoga. His motto is that "People are stuck in their cars, and I like to show them that there's another way to be." "I do a lot of stretching," he said. "There's eight thousand poses in yoga, and I've invented a few extra ones myself. And there's no reason not to do them in your car."

Only in New York…right?

In a stunning turn of events, my blog was found by the outside world and was mistakenly thought of to be original. is a shock to me too. Here is a link to where I got a lot of my information on Black Cherokee...because if I don't add it soon I think I'm going to give "dancing" Tony an aneurysm. Oh and I didn't make that video...I don't put that amount of effort into anything I do, let alone blogging.


Dr. John said...

I like the one about "Got Debt?" Seems like a lot of Americans and America could do with following that advice.

Sue said...

eagle - your blog and the video about Black Cherokee were very touching. One person like him can touch more lives that 1000 of those cars passing by - living everyday in an emotionless blur.
I think people like BC are not to be ignored.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of Black Cherokee--at all. I'd like to be able to encourage his creativity, but just can't do it. That guy causes major traffic jams. I saw him once doing weird things with oranges and had to wait for half hour as everyone watched him. I don't he's "touching lives" as much as "ruining them." Please somebody stop this guy.

Tony said...

Hey "author".

Welcome to the blogosphere. Typically when you take someone's photos and put them in your blog you give them attribution and a link. Give me a link since you basically took a good deal of your content from my posts. Also give a link to a place where folks can buy Otis' music. I am glad you are helping to promote the man but do so with enough respect to give attribution to those who have put in the work.

You didnt author this video either but you do not correct "sue" or when they indicate you made it.

Please at least give me a link when you take so much of my media and research. Thanks

Tony Schultz

author of:

"Its nice to be important but its more important to be nice."
Otis' Mom

eagle said...

Hey Tony,
Thanks so much for reading my blog...I completely abandoned it for awhile. Almost everything, except for a few unclever lines, is written by someone else on my blog. My blog is really only a journal for myself to have of all of the things I learn along the way in life. I compile all the information I can on a subject and just cut and paste it together so I can understand it and then post it so I never have to scramble around the internet trying to make sense of it again. Never in a million years did I think that my blog would be read by others, let alone important enough to warrant footnotes, links and promotion. I understand your concern, so feel free to leave another comment with your website and a link to otis' music. (I didn't include otis' music because that is not what I know him for.)

And I really don't think sue thinks I made the video, just based on her wording "your blog and the video". To me I would think she would say your blog and video. But that's just my interpretation.

OH WOW...while writing this I just went to that link that you posted that said I made the video. At first I just thought you were talking nonsense and put some random link there but this is a grave error. Oh dear I'll have to figure out how to fix that though and be mindful of it in the future.

Oh and I really don't think I'm important AT ALL and you shouldn't either. :)

-The Eagle View

Just did you find either of the blogs?

Tony said...

Very nice Eagle Eye

I found the blogs because Otis called me and told me he was in the paper on Saturday for a picture he posted called "Catholic". When I searched to find the article online "nycblog" showed up with a link to you with my text and photography there. Never found the article.

Anyway, thats crazy that "someone else" on your blog wrote this post since you dont seem to have any other team members. Spooky! If you compare your writing to mine at thewinger it is pretty clear it is plagiarism. The photo you lifted is definitely mine. You can see on the link where you (or your imaginary friend) got it from.

Anyway. Thanks. Nice of you to give attribution of your copied text and images from my blog. Since you are playing so nice I hereby give written permission for you to use my (all rights reserved) original photography in this blog post.

For the love of Otis!

Anyone who wants to learn about Otis and his message and music and art and SUPPORT him check out through his music on Itunes and featured article in issue 2 of Gradient magazine.


Maybe if Wall St listened to Otis we wouldnt be in our current predicament. Right?

Rock on!

Black said...

Black Cherokee

If you want to inpress people you must use your own talents and not the talents of others.

The value of spontaneous expression.

I made a resolution.
To try my best.

It’s a lot easier when the people are working with you.

Otis Houston Jr

AMIT said...

Is this blog post about Racism?By the way the pictures are good.

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abdul said...

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Anonymous said...


I can't say Eagle plagiarized Tony, because Tony's site/link isn't working.


Somebody suer plagiarized the shit out of this New Yorker article....

From July 2001.