A black and white photo of SAME walking down the street
photo by Osvaldo Chance Jimenez

photo by Osvaldo Chance Jimenez

Book Excerpt: "It's In The Air" by SAME

Cell Vision is happy to present an excerpt from SAME's recently published book "It's In The Air". Somewhere between poetry and prose, this self-reflective stream jumps between fragmented timelines and places. It is a baffling read that marries human depravity to shamanic mysticism only to divorce the two and remarry them all over again. Cell Vision correspondent Osvaldo Chance Jimenez writes the introduction, welcoming us to the surreal world of SAME.

Christopher Johnson is a born and raised native of New York City. His origins are obscured amongst the gilded Upper East Side townhouses that are adorned with crumbling but sentient gargoyles, and the formaldehyde scented project hallways of lower Harlem. A nomad in terms of genre or “scenes,” he walks the lines of both worlds without compromise, and unapologetic in his observations of the absurdities of reality.

A Ballentine’s Ale sommelier and a 5 finger discount entrepreneur - diversely invested into modern day Aerosol hieroglyphs - his name and legend were well known even before the features of his face were. An accidental top chef, who’s taste was imitated & duplicated in the vestibules of the most prestigious private schools, he was the envy of many, with a Peter Pan charm that had his peers jumping out the windows of their sheltered trust fund bubbles into their aspiring socialite deaths.

A conflicted creative, he, along with the celebrated DJ & producer Tommy Mas, esteemed documentarian Alden Fonda, & Instagram meme-lord turned novelty wine mogul The Fat Jew, created TEAM FACELIFT, a parody underground rap group with very real non-parody content. So real that... it landed them a recording contract with the infamous Duck Down Records. Living his lyrics was his truth, and his reckless self indulgence was his vengeance against the norms his obviously privileged environment produced.

His need to feed his rabid artistic anxieties took him from the soot covered train tunnels under a gentrifying city, to its rooftops above, where any object became a worthy canvas to carry his acrylic poetry. His internal desire to scream color - without saying a word - was saturated all over the “Support, Therapy & Instability” project curated by fellow asphalt artisans Mint & Serf. The layers of caked up spray paint, other found relics embellished with the stains of urban decay, and a repeated process of creating and destruction that took about 3 years to complete were the catalyst that led him to very successful solo art shows on both sides of the country at the reputable Lazy Suzan gallery in Chinatown to the emerging space that is De Plume gallery in Los Angeles.

Did I mention that he did all of this while being color blind?

From violent murals in the middle of music festivals to high end pool parties in South Beach - adorned with male bodybuilders and the plastic surgery riddled scion with a taste for degeneracy - nothing stays the same for SAME (his street moniker). His outspokenness and disgust for the gatekeeper mentality of the blue-chip art hierarchy found him vandalizing (and playfully misspelling “PPPRICELESS”) the Jeff Koons exhibition at the famed Whitney Museum while Mr. Koon’s was having a well attended discussion of his retrospective, only a few feet away. The immediate whirlwind of press and pressure from the upper crust of the art world after that incident was a troublesome, but welcomed opportunity for him, and he took his talents across the country - and then Eurorail hopping throughout Europe.

No gallery can contain him... and no gatekeeper can hold him, as every painting he posts on his Instagram is instantly sold to an embedded fan base that craves that New York tapestry of mixed-media from yesterday.

And now, after a period of introspection, when his passport that couldn’t hold any more immigration & customs stamps... he decided to write.

I remember when I knew his verbiage was one of voracious victories. It was back in 2008 when I was about to get my dick sucked by a tattooed indie babe that was way out of my league. “Live your lyrics” he said, as he walked into the home recording studio by accident, catching her getting down on her knees, mouth wide open and ready to perform. He didn’t even do the nervous “oh I’m sorry” and shut the door, as any normie would, instead he left it ajar, sprinkled his ethereal wisdom, and floated away.

Just kidding (not really).

No, it was during the Blackout Edition of SGU, an art chronicle our collective PPP published a couple of times a year, usually as a precursor to whatever event we would create. I had written a story about what we actually did, in extensive detail, the night Hurricane Sandy hit NYC and blacked out all of downtown and the outer boroughs. He didn’t. He wrote about actually blacking out, as in blacking out from too many illegal substances injected at once. His story had nothing to do with the storm. And both of our stories went together like Ghostface & Raekwon on “The Purple Tape”.

Our essays were the only two that ran in that issue, and I held the final product in my hand, eyes streaming with excitement, like I had just invented the peanut butter & jelly sandwich.

That was 2012.

And on this past October, 2019; we released our first published books worldwide with Peripherie Books. Mine is a mini memoir, a preview of what’s to come next. His is... well... something else. An Iliad. A perverse piece of prose laid out in powdery white lines and snorted along with ambrosia that, when drunk, made even the mightiest of Gods tremble before the innate passions of man.

Imagine a young Shakespeare, born amongst the disguised demons of Woody Allen’s Manhattan, who writes his musings illegally on the walls of New York City, living and dying amongst the luxurious and the lepers every single night downtown, using his weaponized pen to carve his obituary into the wooden tables of a dive bar for degenerates.

Imagine Plato popping Percocets in the projects, slurring his guarded wisdom with the constraint of a Boa-constrictor. Socrates selling hits of ecstasy at the coliseum, seducing the guardians of eternity with his charm, allowing him to quantum leap from moment to moment, fully aware of his piety while self-persecuted by his flaws. Imagine an Edgar Allen Poe, immersed in the cosmos, haunted by a mocking bird of a physical pleasure only the soul can touch.

This is the prophecy of SAME, fulfilled, yet incomplete. A religion of self, abandoned in the pursuit of self, only to be found in one’s self. This is the floor plan of the universe, and SAME is its grand architect. This book tells you the things the reflection in the bathroom mirror won’t tell you. A must read... several times over. Below is an excerpt. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed watching him living it.

The beast bellows and raids.
I await my flesh to be torn from the bones and picked clean.
My fear rabid approaching the terminal spectacle.
As the mighty bird descends
from the hellfire skies it morphs into a crystal mirror.
A mirror as wide as the Gobi.
The pain I’ve produced for others now echoes
into my 6th dimension soul.
The pain I rained down now
pounds on my face til dough.
The reflection once murky now vivid.
The pain I’ve conditioned in others has arrived
to haunt me ten trillion times increased solid.
I turn to stone and face the Indian Ocean to ponder my fortune.

I’ve etched my name on walls for centuries.
My name has outlived dynasties, Great floods,
wars and fire from Osiris himself.
I’ve mocked Nero with ash paintings of bulbous dicks.
Now I gaze upon my reflection.
The nebulous vapor crosses the lake and yet the water remains still.
That’s when you feel it.
When you greet her.
The High Priestess on her throne of Carp.
When you can peel the onions without stench
and peek beyond the veil

SAME's book "It's In The Air" is available now from Peripherie Books at the link below.

Purchase "It's In The Air"