Michel Dobbs

Son of Painter John Dobbs and Anne Dobbs, Grew Up at Westbeth 1970-1981

For those of us who grew up with Geeby Dajani, he was bigger than life. His magic can’t be written about or described. It was in his being, in his presence. I grew up on the third floor of Westbeth, right next door to the Dajanis, and I love them all. I spent my childhood and, honestly, probably all of my life, under Geeby’s spell.

As a kid, Geeby was wild, funny, brash, sharp, joyous, unruly, playful, scary, curious, defiant, and very present. And mostly laughing; he made everything funny. Even in the scariest, “we might not make it out of this” situations, we’d be laughing. You didn’t want to be on the other side of him, though; but if you were on his side, you were laughing. Other friends would be playing cops and robbers, or some version of good guys and bad guys, but I don’t remember Geeby pretending much. Instead, he’d have us climbing around the Westbeth roofs, messing around in the labyrinth of a basement, crawling under the abandoned piers, or up on the pre-High Line train tracks and the old West Side Highway, or playing OT–our version of stickball. Or roller hockey or football. No, we didn’t have to play at cops and robbers, because real cops were always chasing us.

One time, I remember sneaking into the empty buildings going up near Westbeth and getting chased by dogs, or at least Geeby told us we were. We all were so scared, we jumped out of the third floor windows. Luckily, there was a sand pile at the bottom. (I couldn’t walk for a week.) We ran from there (me limping), and we were just laughing.

Why settle for pretending when you could live for real? And laugh! That was the message of Geeby’s young life for me.

(Michel is currently a Buddhist priest and baker.)

SHARE:Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInPin on Pinterest