Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Sep 01st
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

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

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

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual