By Seth Ferranti
Gorilla Convict Publications 2008
Reviewed by Randall Radic
A few years ago, Alice K. Turner wrote a book entitled The History of Hell. The book traces the idea of hell throughout history. In like manner, Jeffrey Burton Russell wrote The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity. His book traces the idea of the Devil in a period of history. Turner and Burton are highly educated, erudite, and talented. They write about abstract ideas.
There’s another writer, who wrote a book combining the subjects of Turner’s book and Burton’s book. His name is Seth Ferranti aka “Soul Man.” He, too, is erudite and talented – only in a different kind of way. Seth has been incarcerated in the “feds,” which is the federal prison system since 1993. If everything goes smoothly, he will be released in 2015.
In his book, Street Legends, Seth writes about the same subjects as Turner and Burton, hell and the Devil. Only Seth doesn’t write about ideas, he writes about reality. There is a hell on earth. It’s called a supermax prison. And it’s where they keep the Devil. Only in this case, there’s more than one Devil – there’s six. The names of the Devils are: Kenneth ‘Supreme’ McGriff, Wayne ‘Silk’ Perry, Anthony James, Aaron Jones, Peter ‘Pistol Pete’ Rollack, and George ‘Boy George’ Rivera. And they make the Biblical Devil look like a three-year-old toddler at a Sunday school picnic.
Seth ‘Soul Man’ Ferranti tells the actual story of each man. The stories twirl around cocaine and heroin, oodles and oodles of money, plump cars, and bling bling. Unfortunately, in each case, the merry-go-round of fun turns into a Tilt-a-Whirl of violence and murder as the street hustlers ride the streets. In the end, each of the six Devils is imprisoned in hell on earth for life.
Ferranti’s style is raw and edgy, full of street slang and prison jargon, which is fascinating to read. What really keeps the book moving – and the reader engaged – is Ferranti’s talent for storytelling. As he relates the story, Ferranti seems to be idolizing the lifestyles and actions of these street stars. And in a sense, he is, but only because he’s showing the reader how members of certain socio-economic groups look at these men. To these people, these men are legends. They are street stars, because they’re “living the life.”
Then, though, as each man’s life spirals into a black hole from which there is no return, Ferranti politely acknowledges the utter folly of such a lifestyle. He shows each man for the fraud and charlatan he was. Oh, Ferranti respects their code of omerta (silence), and the fact that they were willing to go to prison for it. Yet Ferranti implies that only totally immoral individuals operate on a pseudo-moral system founded on omerta or silence. Only corrupt people worry about someone snitching on them. And anyone who knows enough to snitch about such people has, at the very least, been dabbling in corruption.
At the same time, Ferranti does not pretend that the agents of justice – the authorities – are impeccable angelic beings, who always play by the rules. In Street Legends, carrying a badge does not guarantee a squeaky-clean character. Ferranti points out that the authorities sometimes stack the deck when it serves their purposes. In other words, this is not a story about good guys and bad guys. It’s a story about waste. This does not, however, dilute the moral of Ferranti’s book.
The moral of the story is that “living the life”, if that life is based on drugs and murder, is nothing more than a fleeting mirage. When the mirage disappears, all that’s left is a sign that reads “Welcome To Hell.”
Street Legends is the story of the cry of utter desolation coming from those now residing in that hell.