We were devastated to hear the news yesterday that Brooklyn's finest soul DJ, party promoter, and all-around fantastic specimen of humankind, Jonathan Toubin, was injured in a freak accident in Portland that can only be described as horrific. Toubin was injured when a cab drove through a wall into his ground-floor room at the Jupiter Hotel, pinning him to the bed where he lay sleeping. He is currently in serious condition at OHSU hospital.
I've known Jonathan Toubin for years and I'd say at least half of my funnest nights ever had something to do with him. He is a rare human being who spends pretty much his entire waking life giving those around him every last bit of his positive energy. He's a fast-talking Jew from Texas who secretly knows just as much about hardcore as he does about rare soul 45s. He's such a good DJ that he makes me want to get married just so I can hire him to make my future in-laws shake their asses at the wedding. But he's more than just an expert on soul music, he's an expert on the human soul in general. He's a loud-mouthed Leo, the king of good times, with an eternal good attitude and that rubs off on everyone around him. He's the type of guy who goes to five Thanksgivings in one day just because everyone wants him to thumbs up their turkey time (I'm not exaggerating here, I hung out with him at Thanksgiving #4). He's a master flirt and also a gentleman who would always carry my records when he walked me home when I lived a few blocks away from him on the Southside. If you know Jonathan, if you've ever been to a Soul Clap and Dance Off in your hometown or ever sweated it out to one of his DJ sets in Brooklyn, or even if you just have half a heart, send your love, your vibes, your wishes, your prayers, your energy or however you like to get down to Portland.
What happened to Jonathan breaks my heart and hurts my head. I was standing in Cinefamily as outcasts streamed in to see a documentary about Roger Corman when I received a few vague and horrifying messages from people I know that Jonathan had been in some sort of accident. I frantically typed out questions and tried to call people, and after a few minutes found the article which let me know that Jonathan had been run over in his bed while he was sleeping. As I read it I said, "What the fuck," or "Oh my god," or something like that a few times, and went outside to call Beverly to find out if Jonathan was dead.
Beverly let me know his condition was improving and I heard from someone else that he was "stable." I did a little crying, imagining the potential of a world without Jonathan Toubin. I've known Jonathan for a few years now. I was aware of him before I knew him and wrote him off as a shallow nightlife personality with good records and cool clothes. Upon meeting him I discovered that Jonathan seemed to completely get me, and more than that, he seemed to like me. I had imagined that Jonathan was part of some sort of club for cool snobs but it turned out to be a club of earnest sensitive folks who were all orbiting around Jonathan.
I’m writing this on short notice and haven't had time to organize my thoughts, so my thoughts are disorganized and I'm probably going to fail to say what I really feel. A lot of people in New York are glad-handing, success-driven animals who feel very little and only care about what you can do for them immediately. Sometimes I fear that I might be one of those. Jonathan is the opposite of that type of creature. I think it's his most defining feature. He doesn't have to be kind--people would still come to see him DJ, because he’s good at it--but he is.
Not long after we made friends I was DJing with him and judging his Soul Clap party. He even let my dad be a judge. Why? Because he's a nice guy. Being nice to my dad didn't help him climb an invisible success ladder, he just lives to give. He asks about how my dad's doing too and tries to get him to come back. I don't know why he likes my dad so much. He's like a human dog, in the best kind of way, meaning he just loves people and wants everyone to have a good time.
I don't know what else to say here. He's a redeeming force in a place that can be cruel. He's kind for no other reason than because that's how he is. He's become the center of a scene of good dudes. I love him a lot and even though he's popular I always know he's excited to see me when we're together. It's a fucking cruel joke that this would happen to Jonathan. Everyone's panicked because we're scared that one major source of great joy was almost taken away. Jonathan Toubin loves everyone and everyone loves Jonathan Toubin. I also know that I love Jonathan and Jonathan loves me.
PHOTOS: NICK GAZIN
UPDATE: There's a benefit party for Jonathan Toubin at Home Sweet Home in NYC tonight, December 9, from 7 PM to 4 AM, with happy hour by Ethan and friends from Metropolis and DJs all night: Josh Styles, Billy & Miriam (Norton Records), separate sets from Andy Animal and Danny Gold (Stalkers), and Avi Spivak (Human Being Lawnmower). Suggested donation is $5, which you can totally manage. And there's a raffle too. Details here.