Bonus: An Ex-Cannibal Lived There

Tobias Scheebaum, a late resident of Westbeth, was a writer, artist and explorer. Scheebaum was granted a Fulbright fellowship to study art in Peru in 1950. While in Peru, Schneebaum learned about the Arakmbut tribe, a group of people deep in the jungle who still used primitive tools and didn’t take kindly to outsiders. Schneebaum was inspired to find them, and he did. Schneebaum lived happily among the Arambut tribe, where homosexuality was accepted and the stresses of modern life were far away, for seven months. One night, Schneebaum accompanied a group of men on what he thought was going to be a routine hunting trip, but turned out to be a raid on another tribe. The Arakmbut murdered all of the men in the village and in celebration, ate parts of their bodies.

In his 1969 memoir, Keep the River on Your Right, Schneebaum admits to taking part in the cannibalistic activity. He left the tribe shortly after the incident to return to New York. The validity of his story has been contested through the years, though Scheebaum defended it until his death. Schneebaum returned to the tribe in the 1990s to film the award winning documentary “Keep the River on Your Right: A Modern Cannibal Tale,” co-directed by Laurie Gwen Shapiro, an Untapped Cities writer and Insiders member. Schneebaum famously had an extraordinary collection of primitive art and skulls in his apartment, many items of which were bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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