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De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Dare I Say It?
Last night during our becoming-a-tradition shooting of the shit at the Hotel Congress -- its Cup Café, if you want to be precise about it -- Eric and I stumbled into a discussion of the Grateful Dead song "Box of Rain." He praised its ending. I defended the rest of it. "What's great about it is that it never resolves." This morning, the afterglow of yesterday's good times inspired me to put on the album that song starts off, American Beauty.

I'm not sure what it will do to my reputation to admit this -- I've already admitted it here once before, though a long time ago -- but I like a good deal of the Dead aesthetic. I always kind of dug the impromptu fairs that would spring up outside the halls where they were playing. I had fun when I saw them in concert, My First Time involved eating Oreos, seeing a green cloud, being sure that my companion would never return from the restroom, and then walking through what seemed like miles of landfill dust on the way back to his yellow Nova. And yet I still recall it fondly and have had a soft spot for the Dead concert vibe ever since.

I'm not sure I'd want to Go There now, given my advanced age, but I can still listen to American Beauty or Workingman's Dead and imagine myself wandering through a Humboldt-softened morning in Garberville, with nothing to do but feel the sun and look for coffee and colorful knick-knacks. Yes, underneath it all I'm something of a "lite" hippie in my sensibility. In the end, I want my steel roses to be stamped with tiny holes in a paisley pattern. That way I can hold them up to the light and say, "Trippy!" from time to time, while still preserving the possibility of accidentally wounding myself in the process. I'm no hunk, so you might as well call me "puppy."

Tags: , ,
Mode: in the backwash
Muse: American Beauty on the family-room stereo

15 comments or Leave a comment
amnesiascope From: amnesiascope Date: June 25th, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I'd say this is a bonafide Benjaminian moment.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: June 25th, 2005 09:02 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Boy, did you make my day. I mean, you know this already, but nothing could make me happier than that!
masoo From: masoo Date: June 25th, 2005 07:14 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I always figured the fact that the only albums I really liked were Workingman's Dead and American Beauty meant I wasn't much of a Deadhead.

Anecdote: many years ago when the Dead were in town, I was shopping at the grocery store with my son, who was v.young at the time. After a few minutes, he said "hey dad, how come it smells like dirt in the store?" I was confused at first until I saw how many Deadheads were shopping at the same time as us. "Ah," I explained, sad that I'd never passed this along to my son before, "that's not dirt, that's patchouli." He was skeptical that his dad had ever purposely smelled like dirt ... I assured him it was true, and it did NOT smell like dirt, ya whippersnapper!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: June 25th, 2005 09:04 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well, you have me there. Those are my favorites and they're good enough that it's hard to imagine anyone with a partially open mind not admitting their excellence. But I like the Grateful Dead style of jamming too. And it really does sound to me the way acid feels in one's body, for what that's worth.
masoo From: masoo Date: June 25th, 2005 09:18 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
This may be one of my lamer music comments, but the one thing I always had to listen to at some point whenever I was tripping back in those 1970-71 glory days was "Look at You, Look at Me" by Dave Mason. The last extended guitar solo was my version of "the way acid feels."
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: June 25th, 2005 09:21 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I don't even know it!
masoo From: masoo Date: June 25th, 2005 09:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Check yer Gmail account.
chefxh From: chefxh Date: June 26th, 2005 12:21 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
mmm, maybe it's because I never went to a, er, live Dead show, and didn't approach lsd until I was your age, but when the boys jam until their intonation gets increasingly unfocused it just sets off my relative pitch and nakes my ears CRAZY.
siyeh From: siyeh Date: June 25th, 2005 08:35 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Glad you came back out last night!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: June 25th, 2005 09:00 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Me too! I'm a late-night person and am regularly frustrated that I have no one to talk to after midnight. You and H were a blast. And I liked the band a lot. Thanks.
chefxh From: chefxh Date: June 26th, 2005 12:15 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


"come hear Uncle John's band
by the riverside
got some things to talk about
here beside the risinng tide........"

oh, my. I still SO love that song.

a landsman!
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: June 26th, 2005 02:21 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
GD and acid are a good mix. You triggered some memories with these words and they made me smile. Maybe the only time I enjoyed acid wasn't the last time. Maybe it's that the last time I did it was the only time I enjoyed it from start to finish.
kdotdammit From: kdotdammit Date: June 26th, 2005 07:18 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
OK, not to pop a whole in the old Nostalgia Balloon, but is it that I never liked hallucinogens and especially LSD that I've never found Grateful Dead anything more than background pop that I can mindlessly sing along to while doing dishes or whatever. GD has always just sounded so plain and easy to me. Go figure.

And THEN when I went to my only GD concert ever (you were with me), not only was the music Boring as Fuck, but those people . . . ewwww. . . swirling around in some kind of fucking brains leaking at their feet delirium with babies hanging off their tits and other kids running around chewing on the floor and shit. I just found it really ugly and unattractive. Give me a night club with some red lights and people in black any day over that. Uck. Sorry.
tpratt From: tpratt Date: June 26th, 2005 05:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
When I was a little kid, I used to see Dead albums and think holy shit! these guys must be super ugly-sounding and cool and badass! Look at all those gnarly skeletons! Then I got a little bit older and noted all the druggy aspects of their fans and their schtik, and figured it must be some trippy-ass shit. Then I heard them. What a letdown. Generally speaking, I don't hate their music as much as, say, America or Don McLean, but I think any reasonably open-minded individual would agree that the ratio of good music to indulgent, nigh-tuneless shit in the Dead canon would be around 10:90. I did enjoy some of that bluegrass album Jerry made with Grisman or whoever. I just found most of the Dead fans to be real douchebags. Going to UCSC planted me in the midst of dozens of them, in all their stinking glory. Everything I heard about a Dead show, from the group masturbation frenzy mentality of the spinning and humping and eating food spiked with acid and "I need a miracle" horseshit led me to believe I wouldn't feel comfortable there. The kids I went to high school and college with who were stalwart fans were easily as puerile and superficial as the lamest jock fuckwad, except even more obnoxious, because at least you weren't surprised when the jock would act like an asshole.
Regarding the music, though, while I'm sure there are golden kernels of goodness littered throughout the turd of the Dead oeuvre, I've yet to hear anything that really sounds GREAT. KPIG, the greatest station in the world, wasn't shy about playing lots of the Dead, and much of it was inoffensive, but far from great. Then again, I never really cared for acid that much, and certainly had a hard time listening to music while on the stuff. Don't think I'll be subjecting myself to the stuff any time soon just to see if it makes the Grateful Dead sound any better, either.
From: marcegoodman Date: June 26th, 2005 07:24 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I couple Workingman's Dead and American Beauty with Jerry Garcia's and Bob Weir's first solo albums as my favorite period of the recorded Dead. Oddly enough, I only saw them live at periods of my life when I was least into them. Until a few years ago though, I regularly said I missed the Grateful Dead/Jerry Garcia more with each passing day. I have some thoughts about why I might no longer feel this way, but what I loved so much in retrospect was the collective nature of their endeavor, and how it inspired the collective endeavor of Deadhead Nation. It is distressingly easy to romanticize this out of all proportion, but it still seems somewhat miraculous. And lately what I have found to be most moving about the music I love best is how deeply its musicians seem to love music itself generally and/or the specific traditions they find themselves within or draw upon. This is, of course, absolutely unverifiable and may just be hopeless projecting, or just plain tautological, but I think of the Dead in this way too.
or in the end, but I think of the Dead
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