It’s rare that I talk on the phone, but sometimes picking up a call will lead you down interesting paths. I recently went on a journey during a three hour conversation with my lifelong dearest friend, Anthony. We got to talking about music – bands we’d seen and almost’d seen and will never see; the famous musicians we know, have worked with, have had brushes with; and the San Francisco music scene from the late-80s and early 90s, which led us to the band Bomb, and Anthony’s friend Micheal Dean from Bomb directing a movie about writer Hubert (Cubby) Selby Jr.
Selby writes dark, mesmerizing, violent, can’t-look-away Truth. Last Exit To Brooklyn took me back to my time as a squatter, living in bombed-out no-man’s-land South Williamsburg Brooklyn – years before gentrification took hold. Last Exit takes place decades before my time, but I was right there in the story – seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting it all.
Whenever I go back and I get a whiff of the street – summertime at 3:30 in the morning Brooklyn – I get a pang of the kind of dread and excitement that makes me lightly sweat mixed with the feeling of being right at home. Light and heavy at once, like floating through time with cinder block shoes.
Whether or not you are familiar with Selby’s work, It/ll Be Better Tomorrow is worth watching. Writing gave Cubby a reason to live. His art touched so many people it kept him going. He is a celebration of humanity, and the healing power of storytelling, of creativity. His work moved and inspired a lot of people.
If you were ever afraid being an artist was selfish, watch this movie. If anyone ever told you being an artist was selfish, have them watch this movie.
“The responsibility of the artist is to transcend the human ego.” Hubert Selby, Jr.
Image of Hubert Selby, Jr (photographer unknown)
April 16, 2021