|Bob Thompson Music|
What ultimately is the value of something? Is it the price tag? Is it the fact that it is valuable to others? Or is value something the heart knows that cannot be quantify? And why do some folks put a value on some objects others would find valueless? And what exactly does money pay FOR?
These are the questions that come to mind when you sit down to read Hubert’s Freaks. The author is a writer and antiquated book dealer and his subject is a friend and fellow dealer, Bob (whom he calls an :American Palindrome:). Bob is a restless young man in the early 70s who actually “lived like Keroac” while others just talked the talk. He developed an early fascination with collecting records and then moved to books. Book dealing is an odd business, where knowlege of how much something is worth is a guarded secret. In a sense, the person that parts with an old book may be screwed if she does not do her homework. Collecting also provides what the author calls a “down the rabbit hole” experience or two for Bob.
As Bob matured into the manager of a antiquated book shop in Philadelphia, he began collecting African American ephemera. His interests let him to a find of materials from a Times Square institution from the 30s to 60s, Hubert’s. It was part museum, part freak show where an AfAm man, Charlie Lucas, and his wife, “Woogie,” ran and put on shows for the visitors. Then a down the rabbit hole moment, he discovers what appears to be Diane Arbus photos, original prints.
From here the book reads like a good thriller. How much can they be worth? Are they authentic? How does one value photographs? Will Bob overcome this feeling that he always sells for too low? Will bob overcome depression, divorce, and more?
I won’t ruin it but the piece also brings you to the word of outsiders that Diane Arbus took as her subject, and by association the outsider status of people like Bob.
The rabbit hole opens up further, Bob makes a strange outing to Florida to get more materials from Hubert’s, finds an Arbus subject wheeling himself round the block near the bookshop, and gets grifted by relatives of Hubert’s long-deceased manager.
The climax of the book links the low life outsider world with the snobby world of art museums, and Bob with his spirtual doppleganger from Hubert’s.
Spenser Thompson shares anecdotes, music, and videos from Bob Thompson's music career plus thoughts on artists from Duke to Devo.