Home Editor's Pick Nature Boy: The conspiracy theorist who has become a Washington landmark

Nature Boy: The conspiracy theorist who has become a Washington landmark

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Washington (dpa) – In a city in which image is everything and most people wear suits, “Nature Boy” sticks out like a sore thumb. Elijah Alfred Alexander Jr has almost become a landmark on Washington’s Lafayette Square.

He’s got almost nothing on. The retiree, who has his own website and 5,000 friends on Facebook, comes to the park most days.

Alexander in front of the White HouseSurrounded by tourists from around the world, as well as the regular protests that take place in front of the White House, Alexander likes to seek out a comfortable bench in what he calls his “office” and do the sudoku in the daily newspaper.

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Passers-by greet him almost every minute, perhaps stopping for a quick chat. Nature Boy wishes all of the people he regularly sees a good day.

He does have a message for people, but rather than hectoring them with a loudspeaker, Alexander prefers to preach it more subtly.

It’s his fate, he says, to tell people that civilization will end in 2028 and how they can survive in nature.

You don’t need a lot of clothing for that, as proven by Nature Boy for more than 30 years. He last wore shoes in 1981, and a T-shirt in 1984, and now prefers shorts. Some days they are so skimpy they look like just a loincloth.

On days when the weather does get too cold he retreats to his small social-housing apartment in Colombia Heights. He’s had a roof over his head for the past two years, before which he was homeless.

Despite his simple life, the majority of which he spends in Lafayette Square, he has an impressive presence on the internet, where he also spreads his message.

To do that he uses one of the few things he has of material value, his 1,500-dollar laptop.

A former wanderer and veteran of the Vietnam War, Alexander has been in the US capital since 2009.

He originally comes from the southern state of Louisiana, and has travelled through 44 other states as well as Canada and Mexico.

“I travelled the whole way on foot, apart from when I was offered rides,” he says.

His nickname, Nature Boy, was picked up in the south. People just started calling him that one day, he says.

Alexander came to Washington 6 years ago ago after the death of his friend William Thomas.

He believes in some odd theories – for example that Barack Obama, like almost all other presidents or members of Congress, came to power unconstitutionally.

And he suspects that certain dark powers were behind the terrorist attacks on New York of September 11, 2001.

Despite his conspiracy theories, almost everybody likes to have a chat with Alexander.

“Elijah is always cheerful and always kind. I know a lot of people who aren’t,” says his friend Mark Horvath, founder of the organization Invisible People, which reports on the homeless.

Alexander currently has plans to change his office – he has his sights set on the White House next door. His first goal? World peace.