Manual Dreaming of a Fathers Love: A Tale From the Ohio Valley

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I liked how obviously, almost defiantly, fictitious the name sounded. Its comic-book gaudiness was in keeping with some of his past alter egos: Jamie Starr, Alexander Nevermind, Joey Coco. Around twelve-thirty, the phone on my bedside table lit up. Peter Bravestrong was calling.

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In the early eighties, Prince and Matthews had fallen in love, and Prince had tapped her to front the group Vanity 6. Long tiers of candles burned around the piano, light poured in a velvety haze from the ceiling, and fractals purled and oozed on a screen at the back of the stage. There was something wintry about the concert that reminded me of people huddling for warmth against the cold. The same force seemed to be moving him during this performance. Johnson conferred in private with him and then pointed me toward a desk in the main room.

A legal pad had been filled with about thirty pages of pencilled script, with many erasures and rewrites. It also verged on illegible. Sometimes she would squint them like she was about 2 tell U a secret. Eye found out later my mother had a lot of secrets. He summoned up his first kiss, playing house with a girl in his neighborhood. He described the epilepsy he suffered as a child. He wrote about the sometimes physical fights between his parents, and about their separation, when he was seven.

After his mother remarried, in or , Prince went to live with his father, a day he described as the happiest of his life. Eye remember already standing by the car waiting 4 him, crazy with anticipation.


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Calling back 2 mind the whole experience reminds me 2 do the best Eye possibly can every chance Eye get 2 b onstage because somebody out there is c-ing U 4 the 1st time. Artists have the ability 2 change lives with a single per4mance.

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The bond we cemented that very night let me know that there would always b someone in my corner when it came 2 my passion. My father understood that night what music really meant 2 me. From that moment on he never talked down 2 me. We touched on a few spots where I had been confused or wanted more detail.

We hung up. Had I spent twenty-three hours in the air to talk to Prince over the phone? Fortunately, following the show that night, he invited me to join him at an after-party in a waterfront lounge swathed in purple light and chintzed out with faux-crystal chandeliers. He strutted in through the back entrance—he was holding a cane, which enhanced his royal aspect—and invited me across the velvet rope into the V.


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We sat on a plush couch with a marble tray of chocolate-covered strawberries in front of us. I might just release it. He sat forward and gripped his cane with both hands. He was wearing black leather gloves with his symbol on them.

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Convince them that they need to put everything behind me. Tell them I trust you. Or—you can just type it yourself. We left the club through the kitchen. An Audi S. Prince and I sat in the back in silence.

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I found I had nothing to say that was worth breaking it. Make the winner tell their own story. The car pulled into Crown Towers through a special entrance that snaked below the hotel to a bank of underground elevators. I told Prince that I liked the quiet of hotels at this hour.

There was something weirdly appealing about wandering their long carpeted corridors late at night. Prince gave a sly smile. What I thought would be a simple handoff became a two-hour conversation.

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There were a few packs of hairnets off to the side. I liked the idea of framing the memoir as a kind of handbook. You have to give back. My dad came to Minneapolis from Cotton Valley, Louisiana. He learned in the harshest conditions what it means to control wealth. Prince wanted to teach readers about Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a wellspring of black entrepreneurship that flourished in the early twentieth century. After the Civil War, freed blacks flocked to the booming city and bought land.

Segregation forced them to the Greenwood neighborhood, where their proprietorship and ingenuity created a thriving community. Soon, Greenwood boasted more than a hundred black-owned businesses, as well as nearly two dozen churches, several schools, and a public library. Prince loved reading about that amassing of wealth. Hundreds died; about ten thousand lost their homes. Black Wall Street was decimated. Prince agreed, though he saw that the philosophy could be seductive.

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Supremacy is about everything flourishes, everything is nourished. It was more powerful to hear them from other people. He wanted to find some formal devices that would make the book a symbiosis of his words and mine. It had gone viral. Of course it had: his lips in a gentle pout, his eyeliner immaculate, every hair in his mustache trimmed to perfection, he seemed to be daring the customs officials of the world to give him a kiss instead of a stamp.

We need this to get weird. There was a process of elimination. You know a lot more words than I do. He stood and we walked to the door of his suite. Suddenly, my nose was in his hair. I spent the rest of the day catching whiffs of his perfume. At one point, he called Chris Jackson, his editor, at home, and asked if they could just publish the book without contracts or lawyers.

Prince wanted to reserve the right to pull the book from shelves, permanently, at any time in the future, should he ever feel that it no longer reflected who he was. On a Friday, after a three- or four-day volley of offers and counteroffers, they settled on a figure, and Prince hopped on a plane. At p. By eight that evening, a hundred and fifty people had convened to hear the answer at Avenue, a narrow, dusky club on Tenth Avenue, in Chelsea.

Prince, in effulgent gold and purple stripes, announced his memoir as he leaned on a Plexiglas barrier on a stairway high above the crowd. The next day, as news of the memoir caromed around the Internet, Johnson invited me to join him, Bekure, and Prince at the Groove, a night club in the West Village, at around midnight.

Prince had me scoot in beside him and cupped my ear. The artist should always be paid; the company should always be paying. Prince said it reminded him of a story of the one time they were supposed to work together. Second, no profanity. A while later, he nodded to Johnson that it was time to go. He shook my hand, gave me a quick side hug, and hustled out, holding his jacket over his head.

A week went by, and then another, with no word. In early April, Johnson asked me if I could resend the typed pages with my notes. I did, and heard nothing. The silence began to worry me, especially after I read that Prince had postponed a show in Atlanta. A week later, TMZ reported that his plane had made an emergency landing after departing the city, and he was hospitalized in Moline, Illinois, supposedly to treat a resilient case of the flu.