Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Aug 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Attics of Our Lives

blog_gddUCSC’s highly anticipated Grateful Dead Archives offers sneak peek

On a rainy Saturday night at the McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz, several hundred Deadheads gathered to share their appreciation—and fundraising dollars—as The Grateful Dead Archives unveiled a special preview of the exhibit, entitled “The Attics of Our Lives.”

A wild buffet of gourmet cheese, oysters and mini-burgers was washed down with wine as the house band—a symbiotic hybrid of local Dead tribute bands Slugs and Roses and China Cats—ripped through an evening of instrumental classics. Larry Graff (lead guitar), Paul Garcia (drums), Scott Cooper (guitar), and Roger Sideman (bass) provided the soundtrack for the festivities, embedding songs like “Crazy Fingers” with noodling worthy of the missing maestro.

Like a psychedelic version of Vogue’s “Who’s Who,” legends within the Dead scene and regular Joe’s circulated and swirled around stunning works of art, both old and new. Dead roadie Rock Scully, scribes Blair Jackson and Regan McMahon, Dead photographer Jay Blakesberg, pot lawyers, cinematographers, UCSC alumni, and well-heeled fans mingled before entering what was deemed Dead Central: a special preview look at what the archives will eventually become.

Greeting attendees at the entrance was honored artist, Stanley Mouse’s latest work—a beautifully rendered Skull and Roses. Originally taken from the 1859 novel The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (on display at the archive), the large airbrushed piece rips the viewer forward into the near future, promising the covenant, eternal blooming, and a DayGlo rainbow of a dream not yet fully realized.

The exhibit is the work of many people, but the face of the project is Dead Archivist Nicholas Meriwether. Similar to blog_gdSuperman in his Fortress of Solitude, Meriwether has been sequestered in a white paneled room for several years, rummaging through endless boxes, and ruminating on what was worthy of being pulled out for the first preview. Handwritten notes on worn scrap paper by Phil Lesh, Robert Hunter, and Jerry Garcia, annotating the first glimpses of “Unbroken Chain,” “He’s Gone,” and “Fire on the Mountain,” gave fans an inside scoop at the “aha” moment in the creation of long loved songs.

The archivist’s insights are perceptive, and his comments on the need for a Dead archive define the parameters of a mystery, namely, what makes the Grateful Dead so special? “And how is it that that thing continues without the heart, core and soul of ‘it’, in our experience?” asks Meriwether. “I think the answer to that unfolds on several levels. Number one in general we lack a vocabulary, a common cultural vocabulary for describing the kind of x-factor or experience that we are really getting at. We don’t have that and we’re kind of groping—I tend to think that all the scholarship that I’ve been participating in is that each one of those disciplines is trying to get to that core from their own perspective—we all know that the other perspectives are valid and we hope that if we put enough of them together that we’ll be able to see what ‘it’ is.”

Fans come in all shapes and colors—you may be surprised to know that First District Supervisor John Leopold is a longtime Deadhead, who dedicated years of service to the band’s giving arm, The Rex Foundation, serving as president and carrying forth the vision of helping community-based organizations. “I went to my first Grateful dead show at 15-years-old at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and eventually saw them about 250 times. They were the reason I moved out to California. In 1984 the Dead blog_ggdwere playing at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley and the Democratic National Convention was in San Francisco the next week and I thought, ‘OK, California has everything I need.’” Bringing it all full-circle, Leopold’s brother Dave created one of the fan art addressed envelopes on display within the archives.

Behind the scenes of this huge endeavor is the library staff at UCSC. Head of Library Development, Lettie Bennett was a three-dimensional social networker, making connections like a brain firing neurons, and introducing key players. Robin Chandler is the project manager for the Grateful Dead archive project, and oversees the website. “What we’re trying to do here is build a very unusual site,” she says. “The centerpiece will be the band’s archives that we will scan and put online. What we want to do is bring the fans into it to build something that really reflects their experience. The band’s music was a shared experience so our website needs to be a shared experience as well—it will feed on itself as people recognize their shirt they made, or poster they drew, and sold in the parking lot. At the moment, we have made over 50,000 scans and it’s been very visually heavy, but I envision fans being able to recreate their concert experience through ticket stubs, posters and photos.”

For more on the archive and to donate to the fund, visit gratefuldeadarchive.org

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by Robin Chandler, November 09, 2011
Thanks for such a great story!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

Entering Virgo

Sun entering Virgo brings a sign and element change, from Leo’s fire to Virgo’s practical earth. Food, health, grains, service and small animals are in the news and on our minds. It’s one month till autumn. Pumpkins and persimmons are ripening. Venus is in Leo. We radiate warmth; we’re generous, playful and affectionate. Everyone shows off in an ardent, passionate, warm-hearted, romantic and over-dramatic way, reflecting Leo’s fiery nature. Think of life as Shakespeare wrote: life is a play, we are its actors on the same stage together.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 22

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

 

Locavores Only

Farm dinners at Route 1 Farms and the Homeless Garden Project expand the revolution

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Clowning Around With Armitage Chardonnay

Four of us headed to Brandon Armitage’s new tasting room in Aptos Village recently to try his well-made wines.