This book is a tribute to Benjamin, singer, poet and figure of the American underground, and to Cabbageton, an impoverished district of Atlanta Designed like a scrapbook, it combines photographs by Michael Ackerman, pages of Benjamin’s notes and archive documents, with texts by Jem Cohen and Patti Smith. A very special book that reveals the infinite grace, urgency, delicacy and frenzy of a forgotten man and an era.
I remember my first time at Benjamin’s house, my first time in Atlanta. It was late at night, after a Smoke concert. He was hanging out with a few friends in his room, talking, laughing, smoking. I hardly knew him. I still don’t understand why I’d been invited. He was brilliant, charismatic, funny and tender. I sat in a corner, amazed and intimidated, and remained silent. Maybe I took a few photos, maybe not. At around 4 in the morning, I fell asleep on the floor in another room. A few hours later, I woke up, looked into his room and saw him asleep, also on the floor in front of his bed. Today, 27 years later, I’m trying to remember what it felt like to see him lying there, so fragile. I took a photo at the time, picked him up and carried him to his bed, then walked out into the daylight to discover Cabbagetown.