The street scene can be a lot like high school. Where you pass the same people in the hallway year after year. And even if they’re not your friends, or even your acquaintances, you still feel you “know” them somehow. Simply because you’ve seen their act over the course of a period of time.
The Famous Dr. Shububu (as he billed himself) was one such character to me, who I passed on the streets many times over the years. With his green hair, zany outfits, and his loud, nervous, non-stop chatter (he was one of those guys who always seemed to be talking, even when there was nobody for him to talk to), Dr. Shububu was kind of hard not to notice when he was in public. He was one of those “performer” types who always seemed to be putting on a street performance — even as it often wasn’t clear what his performance actually was. In a scene of odd characters, Dr. Shububu was one of the odder.
One time him and a friend of mine, the Infamous Bones, decided to busk together on the corner where I had my vending table. I watched as the two of them spent an hour setting up their amps and trying to get their electric guitars in tune. And then spent another hour arguing and bickering about what song they should play. They finally ended up packing up without having played a song. Ladies and gentlemen, The Dr. Shububu Experience.
Dr. Shububu was probably most well known for his very public obsession with this crazy but beautiful Berkeley street woman. It all started when she started posting these crazy handwritten fliers all over town. She was convinced that she had started all the Bay Area pot clubs, and she had started the rave scene. So her fliers constantly demanded that the people who had stolen these establishments from her should pay her the millions of dollars they owed her. Immediately. Or else she would tie them all up with duct tape and chop them up into little pieces (but her handwriting was surprisingly very neat).
Apparently Dr. Shububu developed an obsessive attraction towards the woman. And in an effort to gain her attention and woo her into his arms, he began making his own fliers, proclaiming his undying love for her, and posting them all over town along side her fliers. A plan that apparently was never successful. Shabubu’s fliers were often witty and zany. But usually didn’t quite make sense. Which may have also described Dr. Shububu.
So for years the two of them had this dueling fliers thing going. And their fliers became a ubiquitous presence in the urban landscape of Berkeley and Oakland. And I even spotted a website on the internet where some people had started collecting, trading and posting the fliers. So the Famous Dr. Shububu attained sort of a cult like status.
And then one day, after years of this, the fliers just stopped appearing. I guess his obsessive fascination with the street woman had finally run it’s course.
And I had pretty much forgotten all about it. Until today somebody told me that Dr. Shububu had passed away. He had been missing for 3 days. And someone did a welfare check at the SRO hotel where he lived, and found his body there. RIP The Famous Dr. Shububu.