Saturday, July 18, 2015

It's DEAD, Jim

"No one's noticed, but the band's all packed and gone..."

Well it's finally happened. The Boys have called it quits. The line goes "What a long strange trip it's been" I get that, but would amend it by adding "Man what a ride"

I've been following The Grateful Dead since roughly 1970, it was the summer between Jr High and High School. Workingman's Dead 1970. The first time I heard Uncle John's Band I felt a vibration, a calmness, a joy that I would embrace for the next 45 years. American Beauty came close on it's heals with Sugar Magnolia, By the time The Grateful Dead (aka Skull and Roses) came out I had my seat secured on the bus.

"There is nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert" that's what the bumper sticker says. Right as rain. There was always something other worldly happening at or around Dead Shows. They played The Great Pyramids and there was an eclipse of the moon. They were in the middle of playing "Fire on the Mountain" up in Eugene, Oregon when Mt St. Helens blew up. Playing "Dark Star" and a meteor streaked from one side of the horizon to the other. At the 'first' of the last shows with the boys closing out the first set with " Viola Lee Blues" there appeared over the stage a double rainbow.
Not strange by itself, but in California, in late June, during a 4 year drought I would classify it as a 'Dead Thing'. Hell, on our way over to the show we looked out the car window and in a clearing amongst the clouds there was a rainbow cloud, yup another 'Dead Thing'.

From the 'Twirlers' to the 'Air Garcias' to the wide eyed starers there was always 'things to see and people to do' at a Dead Show. Strangely, with all of the mind altering opportunities available to the attendees, you couldn't get a beer to save your life! Unless you had access to the 'Back Stage' area and lucky me I did for years. The Daughter learned how to pour a beer from a keg back stage at Shoreline Amphitheater, she was all of maybe 8 or 10. It was all good.

Now before anybody cries foul over me bringing my daughter to Dead shows at such an early age let me just say this...There is no crowd more loving and caring as you will find at a dead concert. Sure there were people with there heads resting on cloud-9 or further out there, but they were generally harmless to all but themselves. I recall a guy that would frequent the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium very calm and rather proud. He would wander the mezzanine and hallways, back straight, head high groovin' to the tunes. We referred to him simply as 'The Naked Guy', the reason should be obvious. Yup, it's a 'Dead Thing'.

What was it about Dead shows that made me keep coming back night after night? Aside from the tunes there was a energy coming off that stage I could take home and use the next day. Five night runs were the norm in the Bay Area, be it Winterland or the Kaiser or the Coliseum, and we would hit them all. I wasn't rich but when the tickets are comped they come with backstage passes they are even harder to turn down. Even so, five nights in a row should have been a killer but instead I came out exhilarated every time.

Ah but the tunes, the music, the vibes. It was said the if you walked by Jerry and listened real hard you could hear the music coming out of his pores. (Words by Hunter, Tunes by Jerry. They made the Songwriters Hall of Fame this year.)

One night they opened with Sugar Magnolia and morphed into another song and went on to give one hell of a show and after the encore they finished Sugar Magnolia. In a way they only played one song that night, one really long song with a lot of verses. Melding and morphing was what the would try every night. Usually it worked, though sometimes, we just let it go.

The time has come I guess to not really let it go but to bring it closer. Break out the old tapes, the new DVDs, or maybe a guitar or a kazoo, and rejoice in what has been one long wonderful ride. For those poor souls who never got to see them live on stage, I am truly sorry. For the rest of us, well...It's a 'Dead Thing'

Sunday, November 3, 2013

If we all had an Asterisk...

as·ter·isk - [as-tuh-risk] - noun

1. A small star like symbol (*), used in writing and printing as a reference mark or to indicate omission, doubtful matter, etc.

2. Linguistics: the figure of a star (*) used to mark utterance that would be considered ungrammatical or otherwise unacceptable by native speakers of a language as in * I enjoy to ski.

3. Historical Linguistics: the figure of a star (*) used to mark a hypothetical or reconstructed form that is not attested in a text or inscription.

4. Something in the shape of a star or asterisk verb (used with object)

5. To mark with an asterisk.  

 *I stole that from...

I keep seeing this on TV and print ads, all kind of ads and promises everywhere; seems the one mandatory thing they have in common is - the asterisk.

I ask: why can't we all live by that rule? Imagine if we could say anything we wanted and all we had to do is carry around a little asterisk on a stick held over our heads?

"I will stand for all the hopes and dreams of the voters in my precinct"*

*Provided the vote falls on the Sunday of a month ending with 'M'.


"I promise to do all of my homework and get good grades"*

*On any course taught by immigrants from Guam 


"I won't spit on your burger"*

*when you are watching

Or the ever popular asterisk before the claim -

*use only as directed.

*must be 18 years older to order

What if we put an asterisk (*) after "IRS" on our tax checks? On the back side, we could add, *Endorsing this check signifies your agreement to fight to the death against anything that might cause the harm or death of anything, plant or animal, in the future. 

*Please note: the reading of this small rant has a 17.5%  chance of the following side effects:

·          lower intestinal disorder

·          pain in the knuckles

·          pain in the ass

·          constant nagging in the ears

·          cat/dog hair in your soup

·          split ends

·          being called 'the Krazy Kat Lady" (HEY! It's only 7 cats and THEY ALL HAVE NAMES!)

Hey, it was just a thought, J

Friday, August 16, 2013

A day in the life...


Cold. Nothing but cold, dark and some kind of constraint. Where am I, how did I wind up here? I have to move. I’m trapped, wrapped up in some kind of tape with just enough flex to wiggle slightly. 

I twist and turn, bend forward and back, loosening the confines just a little each time. Slightly more room but still bone-chillingly cold. Must keep moving, must get free. My movements cause a dim light to begin to peak through; could this be the way out or the way deeper in? Must keep moving, must get free, and must find warmth.

My legs, I can move my legs! Is it the cold or the tightness of my bindings that make my legs feel strange? They seem to be moving independently of my thoughts. Must keep moving; must get free. 

At last, some room, room to move. Push, pull, getting frantic, my arms feel useless. Like my legs, my arms are feeling disconnected. Twist, turn, must seek the warmth. The crack of light is getting wider; could it be getting closer?

Warmth - could it be coming from the light? I twist and turn to get closer to the light. For good or for bad, I crave the warmth.  

The light is brighter now, it fills my blurry vision. What now?  A new sensation, a force, a movement, one not caused by me. Up and down and at the same time almost like a horizontal free fall. I’m twisting and turning but not of my own will. What is happening, again how did I get here?

As quickly as the violence came there is calm, cool instead of frigid. Dare I take time to relax? I feel a drive to escape my entombment; an urgency even greater than before. Again and again, I push against my bindings. The tomb top inches open, the gap widens, the light pours in, and at last – warmth flows over me. The blinding pain from the sudden light is a small price to pay for the lifesaving warmth.  I still can’t move my arms but one of my legs pokes through the spreading crack. I am so close, so close to my freedom. 

Freedom. I stand atop my prior prison and gaze at the wide-open world. One glance reveals an eddy of a mountain stream, sunlight filtering through the willows and aspens hugging the shoreline.  Surrounding me are more escapees, thousands of us pouring out of our own private cells.  Their glances are ones of bewilderment, all of us at a loss to explain this transformation. No time to wonder or worry, a new drive urges me onward.  I stretch out, my arms unfolding, wait now I understand – who needs arms! I have wings... to FLY. 

Joyous warmth and sunshine spur on the drive. I know not where I go but I feel I have only a short time to get there. I leap and flap my wings, glorying in freedom of my first flight. Along with the hordes of my new brothers and sisters, I head out over the water to the new horizon. 

Above me, a cloud of bats are flapping our way. Will they pass me by if I hug the water line? Alas, this is not the answer either. Brook trout, like missiles bursting into air, devour those poor souls who get a little too close to the surface. While black dive-bombers attack from above and silver rockets explode from below my drive is relentless and, regardless of the danger, only gets stronger.

I must find her. Find The One. Propagate the species, answer the drive. Where is she? There are just so many of us - how can I hope to find The One? I scour the swarm, searching, and spot her. So coy, hovering shyly, tracing the lines of a helix as she waits for her One, me. I zoom to her as fast as I can beat these glorious new wings, ignoring the splash from below.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

I don't get it...

Just where did the wheel come off in this train wreck we call “home”, the one founded on the basic right to the pursuit of happiness and freedom for all? I sure don't see it working that way these days.

The home team wins the Super Bowl and there are riots in the streets? The home team loses the Super Bowl and there are riots in the streets? An event occurs 2500 miles away from home; a white man kills a black man and is found innocent of the crime; and gee, it’s ok to destroy our local neighborhood Sears store?

Locally, Mr. Lester Chambers was performing the song People Get Ready, which he dedicated to Trayvon Martin, the black man killed 2500 miles away. A white woman climbed up on stage and attacked and beat him, saying it was HIS fault.

The answer seems to be the same for any occasion, 'Let's burn our house down!'. Where is the logic in any of this? Where is the respect for the other residents of the town? Where is the relevance? Aren't these rioters infringing on other people’s rights? Burning and looting in the name of peace and justice is like killing to preserve the peace. It's just nuts.

There is an old saying "my way or the highway." I think it’s time for all these self-righteous, self-important thugs to hit the road.

Maybe things have gone on this way too long. Maybe there is no going back. I'm not wishing for a "Mayberry" world but I don't want one of "Soylent Green" either. It seems to me we are letting the thugs drag us down and I don't want to go with them!

Come on people; let’s get together - Stay Tooned.