Black cap toes, beige pinstripe trousers, suspenders and homburgs aren’t seen nowadays, but on a Harlem street, who knows what may or may not be common? All it takes is a stroll and you can run into a man as a phoenix of Reconstruction-era dress, not to mention a musician in an alternative rock duo named Casualty of Being.
Vincent Alston is anything but casual. Besides his style and occupation, he takes photographs of the sun, studies ancient cultures such as the Maya and Egyptians and is a firm believer in that fast and processed food (and cable TV) is ultimately bad for you.
Occasionally he’ll sink his teeth into a film, but only after he’s made his own bread, sour cream and strawberry preserves.
“For me it’s such an incredible experience, to put your hands into the food,” says Alston. “I grew up on a farm, but since we were busy all the time, I grew up on a lot of processed food, and what I clearly saw was that processed food was not good for us. It’s what causes obesity and a part of what causes high blood pressure and hypoglycemia. Even when you buy something as simple as sour cream they add additives to them. And we should not allow that to occur. We spend a half an hour in front of the TV. [With] that half an hour [you] could have cooked a wonderful meal.”
This is an eclectic man who’s about positive energies, good vibrations, creating things and enjoying new experiences. And the fact that he likes to make his own strawberry preserves is just the icing on the cake.
“We have to reclaim this experience that we call our life. And it’s not going to be easy,” Alston says. “Even when I got rid of the TV, I felt like something was missing, like an addiction. But then, after a couple of weeks, I was able to redirect that energy to carving stone and just trying out different things. You’re exercising your mind and you’re bringing it into a different light.”
For Vincent Alston’s Strawberry Preserves recipe, see below:
5 cups of strawberries, hulled
1 cup of white sugar, (Vincent doesn’t really like it too sweet, but you can adjust the taste)
½ a lemon, juiced
1) In a stockpot on a medium flame, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Cook to a rolling boil and stir for about 15-20 minutes. Let preserves sit.
(Tip from Vincent: You should always cook preserves on low to medium, and then reduce it and let it sit. He doesn’t like to overcook it because he likes the color to be vibrant in it, so from 20-30 minutes is perfect.)
Photos: Diamond Bradley