The Black Hole in Grateful Dead Releases

By my count, there have been 148 concerts officially released by The Grateful Dead. These releases have come in various incarnations, most notably Dick’s Picks, Road Trips and, the series of late, Dave’s Picks.The Black Hole in Grateful Dead ReleasesAnd while it is a boon for Deadheads to receive any recordings from the archives, a black hole has emerged in these releases – 1982-86 – which is coincidentally the years of my touring. A grand total of four shows have been released from this era –  amounting to only one third of the 1977 releases alone. Even if we excuse the release of all 22 shows from the 1972 European Tour, this works out to a lousy 3% of the releases from almost 20% of their touring years.The Black Hole in Grateful Dead ReleasesSo what gives with Dave Lemieux and company? Is it that these years were particularly weak? I would argue the opposite, that these years offer stellar shows with stellar versions of stellar songs.

Check out these recordings on the Grateful Dead archive and hear for yourself:

Greek Theater 1982/05/22 (Lazy Lightnin’-Supplication)

Madison Square Gardens 1982/09/29 (Loser, China Cat-Rider)

Seattle Auditorium 1983/08/27 (Jack Straw)

Indianapolis Sports and Music Center 1984/06/30 (Shakedown-Playin’-Terrapin)

Worchester Centrum 1984/10/08 (Terrapin-Samson)The Black Hole in Grateful Dead Releases

Augusta Civic Center 1984/10/12 (Cold Rain, Uncle John’s, Morning Dew)

Hartford Civic Center 1984/10/14 (Estimated Prophet)

Oklahoma Zoo Amphitheater 1985/09/02 (BerthaMe and My Uncle, Stagger Lee)

Henry J. Kaiser 1986/02/11 (Bird Song)

Hopefully one day Dave will wake up and get these shows packaged and shipped. (Providence 1986/03/30 is pretty good too.)

Kacy & Clayton Play The Mercury Lounge

Kacy & Clayton build the moment to stay in, look around and wonder what the hell else there could be.Kacy Anderson’s voice offers an assurance, belonging in this moment and no other. Clayton Linthicum’s guitar fills. The Saskatchewan duo, second cousins, are making music, their music, on the small stage for now – just 50 or so people in the audience at The Mercury Lounge in New York City. That won’t last for long.

Grateful Dead Film: “Long Strange Trip” Indeed

Amir Bar-Lev’s 4-hour documentary on The Grateful Dead has its moments: Al Franken explaining the subtleties of Althea, Robert Hunter stating that his lyrics “are clear”, as well as archival footage of an army platoon on LSD. Grateful Dead Film: "Long Strange Trip" IndeedAnd of course there is the music – Uncle John’s Band, Sugar Magnolia, Dark Star and Playin’ in the Band and on – along with reams of concert footage. However, as melancholically sweet as these moments might be, the narrative is skewed, emphasizing the mania and addiction, a tough go for anyone not a Deadhead. Grateful Dead Film: "Long Strange Trip" IndeedThe story of Jerry Garcia as the unwilling guru/god throughout his life is ironically reinforced throughout the film, focusing almost exclusively on his reclusive genius while tip-toeing around the personal wreckage an addict leaves behind, which leaves the viewer wondering how the others might have coped the past 22 years since his death.Which is the biggest gap of all in the film, ignoring the fact that Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart have all been consistently touring, chasing a sound as rapturous as ever.

Jerry & Bobby & Everything of That

I’m trying to figure out this moment, like a glimpse from the ridge, the sun just right, the river and valley streaming out, where the getting to where is gotten to and there might be nothing more. Jerry & Bobby & Everything of ThatIt’s the end of the first set opener – Sugar Magnolia for The Closing of Winterland on New Year’s Eve 1978. Bobby is raring to go, strumming and, well, bobbing, while Jerry watches, amused by these simple chords that we are all ready to jump and die for.Jerry & Bobby & Everything of ThatAnd they go on, Bobby strumming and bobbing, Jerry beatific, Donna unwittingly caught in the whirligig of this remarkable everything thing.Jerry & Bobby & Everything of ThatAnd because it’s recorded, I watch it again and again and come to the realization that a simple thing is not that at all.Jerry & Bobby & Everything of That

Ice Friday: Robert Hunter’s “Loser”

All that I am asking for is ten gold dollars
And I could pay you back with one good hand
You can look around about the wide world over
And you’ll never find another honest man. Ice Friday: Robert Hunter's "Loser"Everybody prayin’ and drinkin’ that wine
I can tell the Queen of Diamonds by the way she shines
Come to daddy on the inside straight,
Well I got no chance of losin’ this time

Corinne Reveals Business: Trump Voodoo Dolls

President Trump’s Appointee for Secretary of Education, Corinne, tries to stay on point: “You are rude. You don’t say hi to anyone.You have a skank look on your face. You’re just not nice. It’s just weird and uncomfortable. I know how to get to people like (you). What does that say about your emotional intelligence, bitch?”Corinne Reveals Business: Trump Voodoo Dolls“I’m nice until you cross me,” she admits. And for anyone who does that? “How do you make a voodoo doll for one person?”
Corinne Reveals Business: Trump Voodoo Dolls

Funnily enough, they are conveniently available here: Donald Trump Voodoo Doll

Ice Friday: Camus Spins Trump

But again and again there comes a time in history when the man dares to say that two and two make four is punished with death. The schoolteacher is well aware of this. And the question is not one of knowing what punishment or reward attends the making of this calculation. The question is that of knowing whether two and two do make four. Ice Friday: Camus Spins TrumpThe essential thing was to save the greatest possible number of persons from dying and being doomed to unending separation. And to do this there was only one resource: to fight the plague. There was nothing admirable about this attitude; it was merely logical.*

(Excerpt from Albert Camus’ The Plague)

Embarrassed by Trump & Bannon & CNN too

Surprisingly, Stephen Bannon – apparently the Goebbels-to-be in the Trump Administration – got one thing right in his recent anti-media rant: “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and listen for awhile.”

The only thing is that Bannon’s context is wrong. The media should have shut up and listened when Trump made his first speech and then stopped their obsessive coverage on the campaign trail. As reported in The New York Times, “Media commentators have accused CNN of giving preferential treatment to Mr. Trump to lift ratings. The network is on track this year to collect $1 billion in profit.” Yes, that ship has now sailed.

As terrible as Trump is – uber-racist-liar-son-of-satan and all – the bigger problem is this money problem of capitalism. There’s nothing else to it, no empathy and understanding, nothing but making money and then more of it, which is why Trump is in the White House and why we’re all going to die. Prematurely, I mean, from a fucked-up planet. Embarrassed by Trump & Bannon & CNN tooTrump isn’t the thing. And Bannon most certainly isn’t the thing. We’re the thing. It’s my problem and yours, this wanting, this pretending to care with likes and shares, this superficial bullshit that is dragging us down, back to the ooze. So, yeah, Bannon is right, they should shut up and listen. And so should he. And I guess me too.

Spinning The Millions Who March

The Women’s March was a moment to be remembered, 400,000 singing, screaming people, everyone just glad to be alive and together, creeping along 42nd Street, up 5th Avenue, five hours to go about 20 blocks. Spinning The Millions Who MarchIt was a joyous affair, not looking to go anywhere, happy with where we were, cheers and songs surging back and forth, echoing between the buildings, calls of “my body, her body” the strongest. (Watch this video!)Spinning The Millions Who March

Truth be told, I’ve never had the pleasure of a more courteous, empathetic, indeed lovely collection of souls in my life. (Good god, what if women did run the world?!?)Spinning The Millions Who MarchLots of emotion, all of that welling up, realizing what could be, even thinking things just might work out after all. Spinning The Millions Who MarchAnd yet, we know what is next, the inevitable spins of fake news, of out-and-out denial, the lies of “dogmatic intransigence” and “alternate facts”. Thus the signs. Spinning The Millions Who MarchThe Trump policy of Lie and Repeat will stay the course, getting more entrenched in fear and anger. And so, sadly, there is nothing to do but take the gloves off and say what’s what in no uncertain terms. It’s time to fight. Hard.
Spinning The Millions Who March

What’s Wrong with Model UN

The Model United Nations is all the rage these days in high schools across the United States. School clubs compete at conferences, most held at universities, in committee sessions modeled after the United Nations. What's Wrong with Model UNEach school team is assigned a specific country and topic and then debate other schools (acting as other countries) to come up with resolutions on world matters. For example, a school might be assigned India and the World Health Organization and be given the topic of International Aid for Syrian Refugees. What's Wrong with Model UNIt looks good on paper – many students use it as a tool for college applications – but it’s not as solid in practice. The problem is that students come from a place of privilege and thus have little genuine understanding of the issues, and more importantly, lack empathy. What's Wrong with Model UNInstead of solving problems, the delegates strive for personal gain, aiming for the title of Best Delegate, and in the end model not the aims of the United Nations, but its practice at its worst.