[Archive] [Indexl

Mailbag 9.01.1996

Subj: Community
Date: Aug 20 1996 1:17 AM EDT
From: (Carol Goslin)


Your site is so simple and so beautiful. It showcases the core of what the
Internet is about and can offer, but minus the bells and whistles. My
homepage represents who I am in a special way. Now those I may never meet
in the real world can experience who I am (if they care...) and still deal
with the personal reality of who they must be. It is a new realm of
community. The Dead taught me about the importance of community. I read
your letter to Jerry on 8/10 and it really touched my heart. My heart
needed to be touched that day, thank you. Sharing it with my deadhead
friends was also good for my heart, and for that sense of community that is
so important in this one world we hope for. Your words have touched my
life. I don't want mine to clutter yours, but your page motivated me to write.

Mickey Hart's Mystery Box contains some really beautiful lyrics. The song
"Down The Road" inspired me to research the life of Joe Hill. I was
wondering if the song "Joe Hill," credited to Earl Robinson in 1937, had
moved you to write about it all. You also included other important figures
in our history. We all have intangible pieces of individuals that we keep a
little bit of with us to meet the demands of our everyday existence and
the future unknown. The Internet Revolution is changing our world for our
children just as the Industrial Revolution changed it for our grandparents.
The industrial movement spawned the labor movement and we began the feel
the power behind organized community. I think the Internet offers a forum to
organize community and the Dead taught me the power of spiritual community.
The tools are at our fingertips to do something incredible.

The Dead brought me the synergy of community through beautiful music,
lyrics, and the myriad of beautiful souls that came to listen. Thank you
for your words, now that the music has changed.


yes, the song was inspired by "I dreamed I saw Joe Hill Last Night" and, despite some mild argument that nobody would know who Joe Hill was, I could hardly remove him from a song his life had inspired, could I? Besides, I argued, if people have forgotten, they need to be reminded. Thanks for a thoughtful letter.

Subj: Deep thanks
Date: Aug 19 1996 8:00 PM EDT

Dear Robert Hunter:

I keep imagining, every time I visit your site, that I will write you a
long, thoughtful letter, full of funny little stories about the impact of
your words (and Jerry's singing--hard to separate the two, sometimes) in
situations in my life through the years.
I'm a 46 yr old lesbian and a publishing professional--one of the legions
of people to whom the Dead's music really mattered through the years, even
though we didn't look like heads from the outside, and though our existence
was often pretty invisible even within the scene.

But it keeps not happening--maybe my pain is still too intense to spend
that much time meditating on the magnitude of the loss (but no more
grieving for a couple of months, you said).

So I'll just thank you for your wonderful songs, complete with so many
multiple layers and wisdoms that only unveil themselves as the years go by.
Often,they have functioned as touchstones, to remind me of what I already
know and help me to try to do the right thing. And thanks,too, for the
Website, which has raised my spirit many times in the last months, as well
as forcing me to come to terms head-on with my mourning.

I'm "marrying" my life partner in a couple of weeks (the official euphemism
is "ceremony of union"), in one of those ironic moments of personal joy
combined with public disapproval which our society so often delivers. It's
been VERY odd to have a moment of such deep significance and heartsong
described by the President as threatening to destroy the family--similar to
trying to match my own many years of joy and transcendance at shows with
the media descriptions of debauchery and senselessness.

I tell you this because one of my deepest desires was to include "Box of
Rain" in the ceremony. After months of low-level frustration (most of the
singers we know are jazz singers who just couldn't relate), we have
arranged for someone to sing it as the ceremony closing. I know, already,
that this will be a moment of closure for me, as the many layers of my life
come together in your words and all they've meant to me (it's always been
one of my top five songs). So thank you, too, for this special gift which
you couldn't know you were giving.

It's fine to use my name if you decide to mount this, but because one can
never know where bigotry might unexpectedly raise its head (yes, even among
visitors to the site), I'd like you to leave off my email address. Sad,
yes, but prudent, too.

Thanks again, and I hope that the media attention you mention in your 8/20
journal doesn't flood you with so much nonsense that you have to pull back.
And here's to a life as full of the healing beauty of the moment as
possible. . .


Sandra Whisler


I wish you much happiness in your marriage and am honored that you choose to use Box of Rain in the ceremony.

I'd be more than a little surprised to find any bigotry addressed to these pages. We have a better class of people among those who feel moved to respond, if I might indulge in a bit of bragging.

Likewise, it's not a flood of nonsense I'd be worrying about from the URL being made more public, rather even more mail which demands answer because of its insight and sensitivity. Nonsense I can always ignore, if it comes to that.

Thanks for the multiple pats on the back.

Subj: 8/16
Date: Aug 16 1996 6:33 PM EDT
From: (John W. Hasbrouck)


I've reread your message of 8/15 several times. I won't attempt to
comment on Bloom's "agon" (or any of his other terminology) this
afternoon but I will think and read and try to formulate a response to
your mesage very soon. You have helped me greatly in my
longstanding desire to connect Bloomian thought with the Beats, and I
am currently pondering an image of Bloom pondering the various Beat
writers as "case studies in stylistic gyration" (a bull's-eye phrase).
I intend to chew this cud for a while.

It occurs to me that you and I are approaching Bloom from different
vantage points. You read him from the perspective of your
identification as a Writer, while I read him from the perspective of
my identification as a Reader. I've always seen Bloom as "The Reader".
His writing seems to exist only because he is a reader. I myself am an
obsessive reader. I read better than I do anything else, and yet I'm
constantly striving to be and wishing I could be better at it. I wish
to be Dr. Johnson's (and Virginia Woolf's) "common reader" as Bloom
claims to be a common reader of Chaucer.

more later,

did I say - if not, will do so now - that what I value most in Harold Bloom is the outer fringe lunacy of his Kabbala oriented theories, like in "Breaking the Vessels"? He is an inventor of utterly new perspectives in reading, in the same sense that Freud was an inventor of entirely new ways to have a psyche. These things can become real in time, if systematically and convincingly presented. Then, later, they can be deconstructed to show they never were anything but sparkling fantasy in the first place. Mankind is richer for them. We build these beautiful vessels, then shatter them. The human perceptual energy contained in them is released to fill other forms.

Date: Aug 19 1996 8:02 PM EDT
From: (BD)

Re: 8/20 Journal posting

Lovely, Robert, very lovely. I know others revere you as an icon
who wrote all those songs we will be singing even in after-life, but I tune
in to your journal because I so enjoy the exquisite turns of phrase that
just flow out of you into the electronic ethers. My deepest dream is to be
able to write like that, and reading your journal is like sitting at the
feet of a master at work. The added spice here is reading sometimes
equally exquisite responses from others. I am in awe of the quality and
levels of communication occurring via your effort here. Sometimes I
*very* timidly venture a comment on the flow of discussion, but I feel like
a little mouse squeaking somewhere in a corner in relation to the gargantuan
quality of the prose and articulation crackling in cyberspace around me.
And especially when you and Terence McKenna interact!! Sometimes I feel
like I'm watching history in the making when I eavesdrop on these
communications between you. (It seems like some kind of first gaspings of
air on land by water creatures - - some kind of evolutionary struggle like
that, listening to the two of you expound on and thereby *pioneer*
exploration into the Mysteries of consciousness.)

So, no, it's not that I don't also revere you as an icon. I do;
your songs have my heart forever, no argument there. But to me you have
always been some magical master craftsman working quietly in the half-light,
and now you are in the bright light of day. How fortunate and delightful
for us fine prose aficionados! So now that the "hard slog" of the grieving
process is behind us (for the Beast?), I look forward to future moments of
lingering over artful, articulate, masterful phrasing and discourse. But
does it *always* have to be about The Beast?? I'm listening, whatever turn
the discussion may take from here. *Please* continue.

With warm regard,


does it always have to be about the beast? No. Or I don't think it does . . .
I'm not sure. It IS about other things, isn't it? I find that my journals have always looked even more dour in retrospect than they do at the time of writing. This holds true over the years. It's a place to evaluate my concerns and come to a deeper understanding of them- you should see some of the journals of yesteryear! I shock myself. But I think I know what you mean. I worried about it when I uploaded yesterday, and immediately began a new journal examining this worry in some detail. I keep my duty to myself uppermost in the journal since it is, after all, the only diary I keep and must do service as a close confidant - but I also have to keep in mind that it will be public and so there's a certain responsibility not to lay too much doom & gloom on unsuspecting browsers. Maybe I should mark it "Private"? Then there would be that extra thrill of accessing something forbidden!

I'm glad the dialogue with Terence blows you away. Rising to the level of making answer to one of his letters is very invigorating. I often wish the interpersonal Grateful Dead scene had continued along those lines. We used to shoot the shit stratospherically, yes indeed we did. That's the part you won't find in the tell all books because who can begin to remember all that was said? It has to be created anew on a regular basis. Prior to 1972, the Dead was all about discourse and music. You can hear echoes of the dialogue in the music. After '72, drugs and earthbound elements established dominatation. Dialogue metamorphosized into employee gripes and road plans. The butterfly returned to the chrysalis and emerged a centipede with numerous legs, capable of infinite truckin'.

Don't, for God's sake, be intimidated at joining the discourse. Too much intellectualization puts a "masculine" edge on things which a number of perspicacious women suggest might be a bit overbalanced. The tendency to turn into a giant brain is as much to be avoided as an overly intellectual stance.

And lastly, thank you for so much validation I'm left here scuffing my shoes in the dirt mumbling "Aw shucks" . . .

Date: Aug 19 1996 11:51 PM EDT
From: Supr1hugh

Mr. Hunter,
I wanted to thank you for putting your words to paper these many years. Your letter to Jerry seems to be the only thing that has made any sense in about a year. I came into the "scene" a little late. I was at Shoreline in the fall of 94' and a friend of mine said "what do you think about this band" and I said (and this is the truth!) "this music my ears have listened to for the first time- my soul a lifetime"...
I was HOOKED! I have been inspired by the music, attitudes, and people of the dead movement ever since.
Robert, a thousand thank yous for your words, wisdom, and the giving us the "it" we all thirst for in a dry generation.
Hugh Sheean

I intend to make a lot more sense, as it comes to me. A reasonable perspective is gradually emerging. I think it's important that it does for the sake of your generation, which feels like it should help "carry on" something, but is a bit baffled as to what. Not having been there, they must rely on reportage and, if you think for a moment, you'll understand why big business doesn't want its "media" to overpromote a vaguely anarchistic movement, anymore than the Washington Post wants to speak well of Clinton if it can be avoided. So we will need to depend more and more on the internet for the straight dope. And we haven't seen the last of the control battles in that area. It's just warming up. They will fight us with endless charges of obscenity while we tell them to go fuck themselves - and our hope dwells in the fact that the net is already too big to control and growing exponentially.

Date: Aug 21 1996 3:38 AM EDT
From: Ronny Son
Subj: festival express movie premiere

hiya havent seen u in a decade im mickeys friend ronny sunshine i was on the train with u guys 1970 i see there having a 10 minute preview of canadian festival expresss move 9-1-96at 4 and 9pm at lincoln center nyc ithoughtu wood be interested the whole movie comes out 1997, it shore wood be nice to see that what a fun time we had i remember janis telling me my movies i showed of the eclipse and airplane neeeded some more editing. talk to u soon :)ronny sunshine living legend

never had such a good time in my life before

Date: Aug 21 1996 2:46 AM EDT


Hello again.
I read your page again today, it really kick started something and I have a lot on my mind.
First of all thanks for the timely reply on the last E-mail. I don't really feel as if I have anything profound to say tonight. I just feel like talking, I guess. I am sitting here at work; about to cut a new release of some software here after midnight. Some of the things you spoke of in your journal struck a chord with me today. It started me wondering "What am I doing here and am I doing a good job of it???" It kinda reminds me of that Talking Heads song "Once in a lifetime" (I think that's the name)

I stopped by tonight. There is some real interesting stuff over there.When I was younger I read some of Lilly's stuff and it brought back a lot of questions from my younger days. Have you ever tried an isolation chamber? I haven't. Always wondered though. I will stop back by to finish looking around when I have more time.

I am heading back up to my home state of Wyoming on Friday. (I live in Denver now)
A very good friend of mine organizes a get together of old friends at a secluded cabin every August. We all eat, drink, listen to music and have fun. I would extend an invitation to you but I know you are not going to be close. I will try to send you a picture of the place. It has always felt like home to a lot of us.

By the way do you have a digital camera or a scanner?
(I thought you mentioned a while back that you didn't bring the scanner)
I am interested in digital cameras and have a lot of fun with scanners.

When people ask me if I am a Deadhead I usually look them straight in the eye and say
"Yea, of course". But now I have a different slant or view on that subject. I am a relatively newbie to the Dead. My first show was in Phoenix Compton Terrace in 1992. I use to be a broker of sorts and knew a lot about the scene but nothing about the music. My wife brought me to the show because she loved(s) the Dead. It really changed the way I look(ed) at things. I use to listen to heavy metal and considered anything else as junk. Now I take the time to listen to the music before I decide. I think what struck me was how nice and happy everyone is when they are inside the show and listening to the music. In metal concerts everyone is just pissed and ready to fight I still do listen to a couple of metal bands but the blues are my choice.

I just got a Zero with Merl tape that hasn't left the my car deck since I got it. I saw Zero for the first time a couple of weeks ago at the Little Bear in Evergreen CO. I also met Merl there last winter. He is a really nice guy.

When I look at the continued following of the band I think a lot of it is from the meanings or interpretation of the lyrics. Some just go for the drugs, but I think everyone goes in for the high
that is carried across the smiles and thoughts of everyone including those that do not take drugs. I also think that taping has also contributed to the band's following. This may seem stupid but it reminds me of an open architecture computer system. But who am I and wadda I know.

My wife just called and I guess since it is past midnight I better take off. I don't know if I finished anything but Thanks for listening,
Take Care,
dc :+)

Ps. Take it easy, remember you are on vacation!

if there's one thing I love it's late night letters. The ones where the ego is too tired to keep awake and the spirit kind of takes over.

I use my wife's Quicktake digital camera. I got it for her birthday and haven't let go of it since. She's good about it. Prefers her Nikon. Doubt if I'll use my scanner much anymore. But I would like a close up lens and some filters.

You a rare bird: deadmetalhead is something new under the sun..

Anything over two weeks isn't a vacation. I live here, and where I live I work. Will be returning to US on 9/1

Date: Aug 21 1996 12:21 AM EDT
From: PDHNH35
Subj: The future is now

RH Well it's taken me awhile to check in...why I don't know. Reading your letter to Jerry moved me. It was sweet,real and a great load off all our minds. When I first put on Mystery Box I screamed. That was because I wasn't listening. After a few listens and being lucky to catch three shows, I realized how special and wonderful the future can, and will be. I hope that you continue to work with Mickey and Mystery Box. The Mint Juleps have the sweetest voices around. favorite story this summer: I was hanging around the house one afternoon, on the day of the Irvine show, decided to tune in, lo and behold, my sister was on the other side of the screen. A small but significant event, confirming that there is always someone out there. The future, however we percieve it to be, is always there and if we wait too long it will pass us by. Memories are wonderful, and just that; to be treasured forever, while we make new ones every second. Thanks for listening. PDH

that's about the size of it. I think, I hope, we've now entered the year of finding that out.

Date: Aug 20 1996 11:54 PM EDT
From: Brondle
Subj: Greetings from CT

Hi Robert,

Hello from the other coast.

I've recently read your letter to JG and journal entry. I admire you're honesty and availability to the masses. It takes alot to open up.

How was your "vacation"? Did you get a chance to run through the flowers? I hope so, you gotta let loose every now and then. I just returned from a short trip to Acadia Nat'l Park in Bar Harbor Maine. Saw the peak night of the Persied meteor shower from a beautiful lakeside, sitting around a campfire. Must have saw about 60-70 fall per hour. We were also looking for Jerry, standing on the moon. I can just picture him throwing stars out of the sky.

Quite a beautiful place. Rugged Maine coastal scenery, just like in the tourist guides. Great birding if you're into adding to your life list. I added nine new species into my Peterson's Field Guide. Nice old guy just passed on also.

As with everyone else in our situation since last Aug 9, I feel as off center as everyone else. It's not easy adjusting to life without seeing the Dead again. It was a sensational experience to have lived through it and I think we are all quite fortunate to be on this planet at this time. You mentioned not seeing them play too often towards the end. I did see a number of show from about 1988 to the end. I rather enjoyed how different the music was getting. It seemed to taking a great jazzy feel. I loved the Branford/Murray shows in LINY and NYC. Great Jerry/Brent stuff during W/out Net phase. My opinion anyway. You're latest stuff w/Jerry was sensational. I love Liberty,
and Days B'twn.

Well, stay happy if you can. I know it's not always easy. You are greatly cared for and loved by many, even though you'll never know very many of us.

If you get a chance, drop me a line.


good to hear from you.
My eyes are too bad for bird watching. Fortunately I learned the sky while they were still sharp, so I can see what's up there, if half by memory. The trick in star gazing is not to look directly at something, but a little to the side, comprehend quickly, and keep your eyes moving. Staring ruins focus.

Date: Aug 20 1996 6:26 PM EDT
From: Mcsusan
Subj: Night Cadre & Beyond

I am a graduate student in literature at St. Xavier University in Chicago. While my classmates are preparing their thesis' on topics like the Penelope chapter in Ulysses or Jane Austen and men, I am heavily interested in you.

You, as an artist, a writer, a lover of Celtic mythology.

At this point, it's only my masters degree. But U of C and Northwestern have sniffed up my tree regarding this tremendous & most interesting topic.

I'd like your opinion, if there is one, and want to ask you--at the least--how you would feel being immortalized for your words, in my words.

I love your poetry. To me, you are on the same plateau as Yeats (who I just returned home from studying in Sligo).

Thank you,

Susan McGlynn

long as I don't have to lift a finger or do an interview I'm all for it.
Thank you for valuing my poetry. I enclose a file of my new book so your research will be up to date.

Date: Aug 21 1996 6:59 PM EDT
From: Mcsusan
Subj: Re: 8/21

No, no interview--I can't stand those. Once, in my former life as a small-town sports reporter, I interviewed a BIG TIME (whoop-de-do) athlete over lunch and all he could do was pour the wine and grab my breasts. Sure, he's a healthy male, but the last thing I'd say in this article was that he should be considered a role model.

To say the least, I no longer am a Cowboys fan.

Thank you for responding, I appreciate it and have downloaded the vital info you have so graciously given me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Drop a note every once in a while--I'm usually good for a joke or three and I'd love to hear about your writing process.


Susan McGlynn

Date: Aug 20 1996 11:50 PM EDT
From: Haight710
Subj: Re: 8/19/AIM FOR THE HEART

dear rh-
despite your self inflicted critique- i rather like the innocence of 'aim'. perhaps i'm overly sentimental because it was the first time i heard your poetry sung by anyone other than 'the boyz'. - your voice far sweeter than i imagined.
some may say we're all card carrying romantics- i still believe poetry may
just help change the world, or at least it may be some kinda cosmic glue - (it started for me with dylan, ochs, patrick sky, seeger and paxton) and continues with hunter.
since my avocation is writing (ok- so it's videos and radio and tv copy) - always have tried to cling to the belief that, in my using humor, that it actually has some folks
smiling (art? perhaps not, but it could definitely be worse).

am looking forward to finishing the 'dead' movie script as soon as i have a a few hours to savor each bit. speak with you after i finish. always a delight hearing from you- try to keep your net hours to under 18 per day - the body does need some time for food and sleep.

as always, peace love and an open invitation from my family to yours to
visit us in the land of enchantment.

dave michelsohn & family
albuquerque, nm and points onward, upward and inward

the 18 hour runs are behind me now. I work somewhat regular hours now: mornings 9 to about 1pm answering mail, take some time off to live life, work on other aspects of the page in the later afternoon (yesterday spent all afternoon with computer problems) take more time off, then write in the journal and maybe answer more email, if there's a lot, till about 1am.
Thanks for the kind words on my recordings. I wasn't criticizing them so much as noting that one only carries on for so long at that sort of all-consuming career without a reasonable level of acceptance. It's too expensive. Most of my records are out of print now and those still available are not exactly walking off the stands.
Poetry will change the world if and when it gets racked.

Subj: WCW
Date: Aug 19 1996 3:58 PM EDT
From: (ehewitt)

Saw your mention of William Carlos Williams in your journal, and thought
you might be interested in a passage from Wallace Stevens, who addresses
the issue of at vs. reality in "Song For A Blue Guitar." the interesting
thing about Stevens, as oppposed to WCW, is that, despite his insistence
on "things as they are," his poetry is laced with color and imagery, never
drab, never black and white. Cockatoos as opposed to asphalt, Naples and
Ceylon vs. Paterson.

(side note: the SF band Red House Painters jsut put out an album titled
"Songs For a Blue Guitar," and I swear that they're making an oblique
tribute to Jerry, especially Mark Kozelek's vocals. Maybe it's just me,
but I don't think so.)

TheMan With The Blue Guitar

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. the day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."

And they said then, "But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."


I cannot bring a world quite round,
Although I patch it as I can.

I sing a hero's head, large eye
And bearded bronze, but not a man,

Although I patch him as I can
And reach through him almost to man.

For a moment final, in the way
The thinking of art seems final when

The thinking of god is smoky dew.
The tune is space. The blue guitar

Becomes the place of things as they are,
A composing of sense of the guitar.

And Stevens's "answer" to WCW's red wheelbarrow (from memory here):

I placed a jar in Tennessee
And round it was upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird nor bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

Wallace Stevens

-- the REAL ehewitt

I also prefer WS to WCW. Do not find Paterson as commanding as others find it, though much is great in what he wrote and he is a study in perfect economy of means. Among my favorites, WCW's note to his wife stuck on the refrigerator door:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Stevens is among my 3 or 4 favorite modern poets. I once recorded the lengthy "Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction" myself so I could listen to it over and over while driving. "They" say his later work does not match up to his earlier, but they are terribly wrong.

Garcia knew the "Man with the Blue Guitar" from the old days and, I believe, identified with it - not to put too big a thing on it.

Thanks for the pleasant moment over the poems.

Date: Aug 20 1996 8:57 PM EDT
From: Sorensed
Subj: Re: Your letter to JG and your journal

Thank you. :)


You're welcome.

Date: Aug 20 1996 12:52 PM EDT

Just got back from a short (first) trip to the Jersey Shore and was surprised to receive such a highly personal response from you so many weeks after my initial message - thanks so much.

I won't take up much of your time, I just wanted to thank you for easing some of our pain, through your lyrics and your openess in this forum. I try to stop in on your homepage each day at lunch - I became somewhat disappointed with the internet after surfing awhile and yours is now my only stop.

Surely this is one of your last trips here, you touch so many people with comfort, kindness, joy, love; you light us up with a brillance similiar to that which fills a stadium at dusk. Not many here have that power, its elegance is something many of us look forward to each day. Often I find myself wondering who fuels your inspiration, then another intensely emotional letter blinds me and nearly knocks me off my chair.

Compliments to you intensify the light you give out and it's just awesome to be sitting here enjoying the ride.

Of all my mother's recent reading after the loss of my brother,
I think she found the most comfort in the words from 'Tell Me Mama'. I have searched for a recording (it was the only song she specifically wanted on the tape) to no avail. Perhaps, if you respond, you could point me in the right direction?

Wishing you a safe and pleasurable trip home, and thanking you for shining a light into this tunnel of darkness.

- Jen G


"Tell Me Mama" was never recorded, except a rough guitar version by me on a cassette machine. Hope things are going smooth as possible with you. Trust to time. Trust to time.
Thank you for the lovely things you say about my work.

Subj: All's Well Agin...
Date: Aug 20 1996 4:24 PM EDT
From: (McManus, Rich)

The other day I got a reply from you to a message I had sent back in June.
The reply was from "Octer," doubtless an alter ego, yet was dated Aug. 14.
Good reply, too. Whisked away the faint misgiving I had about sending more
letters your way. As you so graciously explain in the 8-20 journal, there
were mice in the electronics that led to this time warp.

So we're friends again! ;-)

Just a few things to say: add my name to those knocked right over by
Mystery Box. You ought to see the non-Dead fans among my friends who hear
it, like it a lot, then find out who did it and go, "'re pulling
my leg!" My 4-year-old son Austin particularly likes The Sandman, and runs
around the house yelling "Ragbag Willie and a Bam Alam." (One of his other
favorites is "The Running Song," which you know as "Bertha." He hears this
and starts lapping the staircase in our house.)

BTW, I live in Chevy Chase, which seems to deserve a neighbor like Fford
Cross...did you ever find it?

Lastly, I was watching the clouds past dusk from an upstairs window last
night when it occurred to me that they form a sort of fugitive
hieroglyphics. Thought you'd like that phrase--as odd a gift as the cloud
itself. Your recent sky shots may or may not be related to a friend's
having surprised me with a tape of the 9-2-68 Sky River Festival show on
Aug. 9. OK, not the "pole position" in the Synchronicity 500, but enough to
keep the neurons on sentry duty.

Hope your last days of vacation are as pleasant as a bumblebee easing upon
his clover. Just found out today I'm getting a last crack at the beach next
month--hooray for the bubblerush of oceans!

Forgive the giddy spirits,

yeah - when I saw those dozens of old letters getting cranked unquitably into the netosphere, a lot of things became clear. I generally just name my email with the date, so there was no telling to whom they were going or what was in them. A few others have picked up writing again.

The weather has turned humid and hazy (he said as the sky suddenly clears) making it easier to leave our great place the day after tomorrow.

Glad you like the Box. Time to get back and see if Mick has any new ideas (which is like wondering if a hound has fleas!) Beginning to miss home and the crisis a minute club which is, at the very least, dynamic.

Date: Aug 20 1996 4:39 AM EDT
From: KingLoafer
Subj: Terrapin....

I am an English major at Chico State university in California. The other day I was perusing some of the journals of master's thesi in our library when I came across a work written by Susan Dobra,an instructor at our school, which might interest you. It turns out that she did her thesis on Terrapin Station, and how your work reflected the voices of many earlier poets. As the library was about to close, I did not get a chance to read the entire work, but I will hopufully get a chance to soon. If you would like to read the piece yourself, I would be more than glad to send it to you (maybe I can get Susan to pay for the copying fees :)) Just thought you might like to know...
Chris Sutton
P.S. - Thank you for the wonderful letter to Jerry. In these trying times you seem to be the sanest voice in the bunch. I can't begin to tell you how much your words have inspired me in my writing...

you bet yer boots I'd like to see it. Maybe I'll get another set of clues
as to what it's all about! I mean, I have some pretty shrewd ideas, but I could use some outside opinions, especially on what outside forces may have influenced me on a subconscious level. As long as it's not a post-structuralist or semiotic debunking, I'm open to it.
Send to me
c/o Grateful Dead
PO Box 1073
San Rafael, Ca.


Subj: an unrelated diversion
Date: Aug 20 1996 7:40 PM EDT
From: (Gail Edwards)


as always, no reply needed, i'm just indulging an urge to pass on an
interesting thought, and okay, i admit it, procrastinate a bit.

a most enjoyable musical event for me this year, oddly enough, was an open
rehearsal by the julliard quartet at ft. mason in sf. they were rehearsing
one of the late beethoven quartets side-by-side with a 20th c. quartet
(sessions?) which paralleled the beethoven. it was a rehearsal only in the
loosest sense, because these guys had been performing this stuff for
decades, and they hardly needed to rehearse. really it was more an open
discussion, where they'd play and stop to talk about thoughts as they
occurred. at one point, a member of the audience asked whether he had
recognized a theme from shostakovich in the modern quartet. the 1st
violinist answered shostakovich was definitely in there, but most likely the
composer had been unaware of that. the violinist said it had been his
experience that often composers did things at a subconscious level, and
frequently when the julliard quartet would point out to a contemporary
composer this or that concept, the composer would exclaim, "oh yeah, you're
right, i guess that is what i was getting at", as if realizing it for the
first time. interesting, huh? on an unrelated note, you think the grateful
dead are weird, you should see these guys in the julliard quartet, very
strange birds, and when they got to talking about music, they about bounced
out of their seats with excitement -- exactly like Mickey at the Furthur
Festival, boy was he a trip to watch!


thanks for your perceptions on music and musicians. I'll take you up on your no-reply offer this time. It stands by itself.

Date: Aug 20 1996 6:33 PM EDT
From: Luceloosy
Subj: The Deadhead Thing

Dear Hunter:

After reading your latest journal entry, I thought maybe it's time for this story. It's basically the story of how we never met. I've been at most of your gigs in Seattle over the past 11 years since I first arrived in the city. The first two or so I knew no one who knew you, so meeting you in person was not an option or even a concern. The first time I saw you was Halloween, 1986 I believe, at the Fifth Avenue Theatre? It was a great show. I missed much of your second set, I believe, due to a friend of mine who had taken a mushroom or two too many, and I remember staying with her in the women's john listening to her talk about her awful childhood in Pennsylvania and weeping her Cleopatra makeup all over her face and my shoulder. I remember hearing the opening strains of "Terrapin" and telling April that I had to hear this song. She didn't want to leave the bathroom, but I finally dragged her with me, telling her she would just be my date and she could sit next to me, which she did, burrowing her face in my neck as I enjoyed the hell out of your "Terrapin". By the end of the show, she was all better - perked up enough to keep yelling "Go for it!" as I cruised through downtown Seattle, skating through a number of yellow lights, on the way to the Blue Moon. At the last "Go for it!", I decided to ignore her for some reason, and as I cruised to a stop I glanced to my left to see a police car pulling up in the lane next to me. Ahhhhhh....... ! Got to the Moon in one piece with no detours. Well, that's just a mini-story, but it was my first Robert Hunter show.

Over the next few years, I became good friends with Richard Brender and Caroline Welch, and on a few occasions, when you read poetry here with Michael McClure and whatshisname from the Doors (slight braincell shutdown here), I was a "special guest" of theirs, but somehow, in all the rushing around, we were never introduced - not that I was hanging out for that. Wasn't sure what I'd say, besides, "Hello there. Like your music." I was in the Blue Moon the night when you and T.C. were there after the performance at the University, but there wasn't much room at the table in the Blue Room, and although I did say hello to T.C. at some point, I didn't join the table - just partied with friends down at the bar.

Now comes the reading at the Weathered Wall about 3 years ago??? Maybe more. I just have no concept of time anymore. At the time, I was living with a man named Richard Lee - the guy who videotaped that Weathered Wall performance for you that night. Now, you have to understand, Richard Lee is a great guy and an even greater taper. When asked if he played guitar, Richard would always say, "No, I play stereo!" And he does. We are still very good friends and always will be. But there are times when, even his closest and dearest friends agree, perhaps Richard should be killed. That may sound extreme, but believe me, there were actually times when I walked into the Moon and someone would say to me, "I hope this doesn't inconvenience you too much, Barbara, but I'm going to have to kill Richard." You see, he's a beer alcoholic, and when he drinks he talks. He doesn't get violent. He doesn't necessarily get nasty. He just talks and talks and talks and talks. Our best friends have gotten him a t-shirt which reads "I'm talking and I can't shut up." He wears this shirt with pride.

I was bitten by that bug several times myself. One time in particular was at the Vegas shows, on the morning of the last show (our ninth show in a run), when Richard came up from gambling at 8:00 in the morning and woke me up (after three hours of sleep) by sweeping open the curtains and, when I cavilled, called me an inconsiderate bitch for wasting the view. Richard could get out there, from time to time. He mostly needed someone to talk to. Lucky me. I lacked the physical strength and the moral fiber to take him out right then and there, but friends told me later that I would have been entirely justified. Time passes.....

The night of the Weathered Wall show, I had a prior engagement to have a birthday drink with a friend of mine at another bar. Another friend of mine was coming with me, and then coming with me to the Weathered Wall. Since Richard was working the show, I was told I could bring a guest. We were to be sitting at the tables in the balcony. It sounded like a cozy setting, and I was beginning to think that I just might actually be introduced to Robert Hunter, but....what to say? What to do? How not to just sit there, smiling like the vapid blonde I can impersonate so well, probably with reason. I had just gotten a copy of "Box of Rain," and I decided to bring that along for you to autograph - as well as a copy of a pamphlet I had written about the Blue Moon Tavern. I thought, if opportunity presented itself, I would give you a signed copy of my pamphlet and ask you to sign "Box of Rain." It might be a conversation opener. I, after all, was a tiny bit of a writer myself. In retrospect, it does seem a bit contrived, but it was the best I could come up with at the time. And I would only do it if it seemed easy.

I wore tie dye that night. Richard Lee had told me that you hated tie dye. I, however, am a stubborn bitch, and it was my prettiest dress. I would have worn it if you weren't going to be there, so I was wearing it even if you were. I'm a Deadhead, dammit. I would believe (falsely, as it turns out) that Richard Lee would know that I certainly wasn't the type to rush up to you asking about Jerry. Not my style at all. I actually wanted to ask you where I could get a copy of your translation of Rilke, not being able to find it in the University Bookstore. Ah, well.

I arrived at the Weathered Wall, costumed in tie dye, accompanied by my friend Jason, carrying a copy of "Box of Rain". You weren't on the balcony when I arrived. Richard (Lee) glanced over from his camera, saw me, rushed over and grabbed the book from my hands. "You can't bring that up here. If you have that with you, Hunter won't even come down. He hates Deadheads." And he quickly stashed the book, along with my pamphlet inside, into his backpack and went back to the camera. I was furious! But - not wanting to make a scene, I went along with it. Jason and I found some seats at the far right side of the tables, and somehow, I just knew I would not meet Robert Hunter that night. I must say I was somewhat miffed with you, too. Hates Deadheads, indeed. Who the hell has been supporting you all these years. I sat there fuming for awhile, and then just gave it up and enjoyed the show. You came down once in awhile, but frankly, I no longer had any interest in meeting you at all. For all I knew, Richard Lee would just tackle me to the ground and haul me away and stuff me in his backpack too. You were being well protected that night.

The clincher came after the show. I had taxied to the Weathered Wall, and I was waiting for Richard to pack up and leave, when Caroline came up to me with my copy of "Box of Rain". Richard Lee had given it to her to take to you to sign. Not only that, but you had also signed my pamphlet. Caroline, of course, was completely innocent. This had all been Richard's idea. (Lee, that is - we'll just assume I'm not referring to Brender at all on this night. He wasn't feeling well and had nothing to do with this little charade.) I broke. I was furious. I lit into Richard like a hot knife. It was a genuine, ego-laden snit fit! *I* had written that pamphlet! What the hell was someone else signing it for? An autograph was never the point anyway! I wanted to kill him. I cried, instead. He'd finally made me feel like some little tie-dyed fan who wanted to meet Robert Hunter. Well, I was, too, I suppose, but I don't like feeling like or being treated like a groupie. I vowed never to try to meet you again, should these circumstances again arise, and I didn't.

A few days later, I relayed this story (still fuming) to Brion Shapiro (who's still alive, and relatively well, considering, according to mutual friends - I don't see him much these days), and Brion laughed and said, "Hunter's not at all like that. I'll introduce you sometime." Well, I wasn't holding my breath, but laughing with Brion about the whole thing made me feel better. I've forgiven you for your non-part in this little personal fiasco of mine, and I'll be happy to shake your hand anytime if the opportunity again presents itself.

I tell this story as a response of a sort to your comments on your relationship with the Deadhead community, past and present. I can certainly understand your reluctance to consort with us on an intimate level in the past. Who the hell are we and where the hell are we coming from? The range is enormous. I remember walking down Market Street on the way to the Psychedelic Shop after some Shoreline shows a few years back. I always stopped in there to get the latest copy of Golden Road, and maybe a poster or two to take home to my daughter - maybe a Deadbase. Just the basics. Anyway, along the street, here and there, were dreadlocked white kids in dirty tie dyes, panhandling on the street just as they had been "miracle ticketing" out at Shoreline - everyone's favorite picture of a Deadhead. I pulled up at a stoplight behind two guys in business suits, and was close enough to hear one of them say to the other, "Did you hear that Dark Star tease coming out of Space on Saturday? That was sweet." I had to keep my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud all the way down the street. We are indeed everywhere, and with the sun shining that day over San Francisco, it seemed that all was well and downright interesting in my world.

What, one wonders, binds all of us together? What the hell happened while the music played? Magic happened. We all know that. You ask any of us, from Wall Street to homeless shelters, what one word we associate with the Grateful Dead. I'd guess the overwhelming word would be "magic". What kind of magic? I don't know. We've all kept away from definitions, and I think that's the only way to keep it alive. So I won't try to define it. But some of it comes down to that other word which we all avoid. Religion. So I'll say it. Religion happened. Steve Silberman describes it as a religion with no dogma. I'd say I agree. Is it any easier to define religion than it is to define magic? Probably not. But we know some of the things that religion is supposed to do. It's supposed to uplift the spirit. It's supposed to cleanse the soul. It's supposed to give hope to the hopeless. It's supposed to strengthen and bind us against the coming dark. It's supposed to bring the light. And, Hunter, that's what happened at Dead shows. I don't know why. I don't know why the music of those men combined with your words and the words of others produced this religious feeling, this magic. It just did.

Was it Jerry? I mean, was it Jerry in particular? I don't think so. I loved the Garcia Band, but it wasn't a Dead show. Whatever happened happened when they were all on stage and when we were all there. Something infused us. An idea that wouldn't die. Definitions elude, but we all sorta know what it is. We all sorta believe in that idea. Whatever the hell it is. Are we going to make Garcia into a saint? I don't think so. Not really. My reaction to the Scully book and "Dark Star" - neither of which I've read as yet, although Richard Lee has and is insisting that I read them - is, hey, he's a guy! Whaddya want? But will we mythologize him? Probably. And that might not be all bad. But then, I'm a fan of Joseph Campbell, and I believe that the truth can be found in the myth. The truth that's important, anyway. And the truth is still that magic happened.

What those men were on stage with the Dead and what they are otherwise, while not being essentially different, still is not the same. And I would also say that what we were, what I was, dancing a Dead show, was something other than my real life, although it was at the same time an essential part of me and of my life. It still is. Me doing dishes and feeding the cats and fuming at Richard for fucking up my meeting Robert Hunter - Jerry ditching women, smoking dope, pitching cards in a hat - that's who we are. But something else is there, all along, and at a Dead show, when they played the music and I danced it - we became that something else, that something larger. And we took it with us. That is what lights our lives. And that is what will shape the myth.

The words of your songs are going to be the heart and soul of that myth. Whateve shape it takes. I don't think there's any avoiding it. I wouldn't blame you for being nervous. And Jerry Garcia will be the icon. He'll just hate it, I suppose. But he's more than himself now. He's an idea. He's the idea of what we all did together. So, it's not really Jerry. It *is* all of us. It's just that the picture of that idea looks exactly like Jerry Garcia. There just ain't no getting around it.

I'm glad you're in touch with us. I'm glad I'm meeting you here rather than with a pathetic pamphlet in hand at the Weathered Wall. I'm glad you believe in us and in what was. I'm glad you believe in what you did and in what you do. Because so do we.


Barbara Stoner

damn it to hell Barbara! You think I didn't feel weird signing someone else's book? One time a guy asked me to sign his new guitar with a knife.
Your letter is an absolute crack up!
Someone should invent a game called Icons & Fans. One toss of the dice will assign x icon value to the star player, and another toss, degrees of trepidation in the fan player. The purpose is to obtain an autograph. The game board has various randomly placed obstructions such as: position of dressing room, guards, promotors, cautioning friends and Richard. You would get 2 points for the autograph being delivered by another, 1 additonal point for two autographs, and 3 for getting your own book autographed. Don't think I'll work out the details.

Such inaccessibility as I ehibit from time to time is, quite frankly, based on shyness. Once I get past that, I can be pretty garrulous. And I like to be left alone to consider how to approach the stage for at least fifteen minutes before a performance - since you've seen me work, you know how much energy runs through me when I perform, i.e., enough to light a city block. If I approach the stage in the right frame of mind I can control it, but if I hit at a wrong angle it can take half a set to get it working for me rather than against me. I don't miss that much, the release of raw energy in my system. Night after night it can get to be just too much. Make me crazy. Then I get temperamental. Even when I think I'm cool, some gross indignity (such as abominable sound) can set it off. Now, since I'm a guy who can get excited at the typewriter, never mind an audience, I figure the saner long term course is to write. As for the casual once in awhile gig, it takes me six weeks to get my show together once it gets rusty -build up the callouses, relearn the guitar, relearn the words and changes - so it's not just like saying, yeah, that's a good idea and walking out the door. As for performing poetry - it was fun for awhile, but performance values begin infecting my work. I start writing arty stand-up comedy because I like to make people laugh. Really, I'd rather get an audience rolling in the aisles than make 'em weep or nod intellectually. So it seems the webpage is the best choice for me. At least for the foreseeable future. Also, there's something in me that resists taking advantage of the promotional opportunities of the moment. I can't quite feature being the nostalgia star I believe would be the role laid on me. How could it be otherwise? You know my repertoire. Don't even want to get started on that one, for love or money.

Garcia a normal guy? On a good day he was everything people thought he was and a hell of a lot more. And underwater, he was Neptune himself. He insisted I learn to dive, so, as a total neophyte I was able to observe this great master of the deep in his true native environment. Everything in that weightless world was fabulously interesting to him. A true bottom feeder! Once I saw him tickle a lobster and get a good hard pinch.

I remember once sitting on the boat while Jerry went on down by himself. The water was clear enough you could see hundreds of feet down. I saw him getting smaller and smaller, the bubbles rising to the calm surface. There was something uncannily solemn about it. I'm almost certain his demise was something like that. After entering the water, a diver always gives a thumbs up to the boat to show his gear is working properly before submerging.

Thanks for the full behind the scenes show. It brought a lot of memories back. Seattle was always far and away my favorite place to play.


ps - thanks for the review of "The Wright Brothers" premiere in your accompanying letter. Hope they get the 2cnd half fixed. You mention I light a good cigar in my scene (after 10 takes I should!) but forgot to comment on the most important thing: how was my hair?

Date: Aug 21 1996 12:15 PM EDT
From: Alan Doyle
Subj: Repetition

No sense cluttering your computer with repetitions beyond thanks - the first thanks 8-9 years ago for your writing contributions which have been so underrated by so many. A second thanks now for talking with us while we figure out where we go from here.
Can we really set aside grief? Or do we evolve from paralysis to working with it, trying to make something positive out of that bleak hole as a means of honoring and remembering the people who meant so much to us?
Passing thought: I care not a whit about intruding into or knowing anything about your private life or that of anyone in the organization, but I'd sit down and talk anytime. No star trip. No recording of the gospel, particularly since you guys never really threw out any easy answers. Just for the joy of exchanging ideas and intelligent conversation.
Much has been written, some of it accurate, about the transformational power of the Dead. Nothing I've run across has touched on the intellectual experience; the band's constant challenge to us on the other side of the stage to expand our knowledge and awareness. For me, it was 28 years of, "Where did they come up with that?" or, "Where did Hunter pull that one out from, anyway?" And then it's off on another exploration, checking things out. Those explorations have enriched my life immensely. And they've made me a much better person. Not because Jerry Garcia or Bob Hunter descended from the mountain with tablets. But because of all the challenges lurking around the corners of the music.
The admittedly limited personal contacts I've had with members of the Dead organization have been no less challenging and rewarding.

a good sane letter.
I don't advise setting aside grief rather than working through it. After answering upwards of 500 letters, as deeply and truly as I could, I was advising that I'd personally like to get on to other matters.
Thanks for the right kind of support, Alan.

Date: Aug 21 1996 6:10 PM EDT
From: Alan Doyle
Subj: Moving On

Indeed. We all need to get moving, individually and collectively. One of the most depressing aspects of the band's lurch into mainstream popularity over the last 8-9 years was the degeneration on the audience side of the stage from a collaborative to a consumptive attitude, especially the last 6 years or so. Not only were too many people showing up at shows for reasons other than the music, but too many were showing up expecting a scene to be created for them. Coupled with the band's general decline, which appeared to be caused by more than just Garcia's health problems, shows became pretty painful.
So, now what? There's still the collective core; keeping the values alive and seeing where this thing will head next. The music obviously goes on; the stuff you and Hart have done is absolutely captivating and hints at all sorts of new possibilities. I was wondering how your writing, given its often abstruse/obtuse nature and decidedly non-rock structure in the GD context, would translate to the new format. For me, anyway, it's worked magnificently.
As for Weir, hell, if we got through his onstage slide guitar practice, we can get through his lead guitar practice. Let's see what he comes up with. And I understand Phil's working on a symphony based on Terrapin. Yet another fascinating new world to be explored.
I hope people will quit clamoring long enough for Dead retreads to let themselves be enveloped by the new stuff.
As for our shared/individual values, if folks can't understand the difference between anachronism and preserving values, that's their problem more than ours. Ain't it strange how the political right's "family values", whose origin far predates the '60s/Dead experience, isn't treated as an anachronism, but we are?
Individually, amid the pain and working out the grief, each of us has the opportunity to open a few more of those doors that you, Garcia and the rest of the band have pointed out to us. To once again become collaborators instead of consumers. In my case, the deaths of Garcia/the band have had an inexplicably galvanizing effect. I took a look at myself and saw much more of a consumer than I was comfortable with. So I've gotten back to working with Seva. Right here in somnabulent old Vallejo, I'm trying to reincarnate the relatively short-lived World Music In Schools project that Hart put together in Petaluma in the '80s and in which I participated. As for writing, well, it's time to get off the dime, out of the newspaper business and start writing something closer to the truth.
A lot of my late-40s contemporaries are going through similar sorts of revitalization. Garcia died; our values and aspirations didn't But then we always had the effrontery to believe that "The Grateful Dead" was an inclusive term that enveloped both sides of the stage; that we were collaborators with you guys in a strange, inexplicably important adventure. There are far more empty seats than we'd like, but the bus still is rolling. The adventure goes on.

As for our supporters growing to accept the new music, not measuring it against an impossible standard, they must come to understand that their standard is synonymous with the Grateful Dead as it was. In that frame of reference, good is defined as GD, GD as good. It's a closed loop that can only admit self-imitation. That said, whatever we come up with will be different. Not greater. Different. It will evolve its own style of excellence if conditions are right for growth. Things being as they are, it will always be held to a tough standard, but hopefully, not be judged in competition with that standard.

Date: Aug 21 1996 4:05 AM EDT
From: TDWoody


I wanted to write and say thank you. Not just for the years of beautiful music that you and Garcia gave to the world, but for the words that continue to flow from your mind, your heart and your pen.

While listening to Mickey Hart's new disc the other day, I was looking out my front window at the Sangre de Cristo range. I've been lucky enough the past few years to live in the shadow of these incredible mountains, and to spend much of my free time hiking and mountain biking through their forests. The passion I feel for them is difficult to put into words.

I'll probably be moving on one day soon, hopefully to new opportunities and equally beautiful mountains. But while listening to lyrics of "Sangre de Cristo," I realized that wherever I go, those words will be there to help transport me back to this place of beauty and wonderful memories.

It's no exaggeration to say that your poetry and Jerry's music have provided the soundtrack to much of my life for many years. But never before has one of your songs hit so close to home. Thank you.

Tim Woody

Subj: We're not in Kansas anymore...
Date: Aug 21 1996 11:55 AM EDT
From: (Ronald Moore)

Dear Robert,

Rolling things around in my head and something just seemed to come together.
Thought I should tell you about it.

One of my favorite scenes from the movies I've seen is in The Wizard of Oz.
Remember that great moment when Dorothy and her crew finally get their
audience with the great Wizard of Oz. They're scared to death, and Oz is
really laying it on them. Big image, smoke, fire, all the goodies, right?
Then, and this is the part that floors me, Dorothy's dog Toto pulls the
curtain back, revealing a very mortal little man. Remember? The best part is,
when he (can't recall his name) realizes what the dog has done he actually
says into the microphone "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

Many times through the years, I've applied that quote, when it seemed as
though someone or something was pulling my strings, or jerking my chain;
perspective being the determinate factor. Pay no attention to that man behind
the curtain! Ha!

Well, what occurred me, and the reason I'm writing is that I see an analogy
between Toto, and you K9Luna! Don't let what could be considered an
unfavorable comparison to a dog fool you. You see Toto was the hero of the
story. If not for revealing the man behind the curtain, we could not have had
that distinctly human and humane story.

Likewise, without your revelations and de-mystification's, many would remain
hypnotized by the smoke and mirrors. You're shining the light to be sure. The
new day dawns.

Do say!!

Shine on,


I like the way you think. Toto the Deconstructionist.
Still considering the poem you sent a couple of weeks ago.

Subj: [Fwd: Momento Mori]
Date: Aug 20 1996 3:41 PM EDT

Dear Robert,
The "dance of death" indeed. Eugene O'Neil once said something
to the effect of finding beauty in suffering. Seeing Jerry going
down towards the end of his life had this quality to it for me. When
most of my friends were getting disgusted with going to shows whereat
JG rarely played (at Kaiser in Nov. of 94 I saw Jerry nodding over his
guitar and he awoke with a shudder, his whole body twitching as he
came out of his nod) I felt as if I was witnessing something
incredibly beautiful, though I do not mean this specific incident.
In fact I can remember leaving this late-autumn show feeling real
depressed, what with winter coming, and the days getting shorter and
shorter, and the really weird place the music took me that night. But
stopping on the steps on my way out, I asked a young guy what he
though of the show, totally rad, he said. Being a performer all his
life, I admired his continued effort and his openness in showing,
during his decline, that indeed he was dying and that that is just the
way it is. I read somewhere that his wife didn't know he was using -
and she lived with him. For many of us out in the audience it was so
obvious, how can that be? Anyway about this beauty in suffering, I
know it sounds harsh and maybe a bit callous, but we all choose our
paths, and Jerry's was that of a performer,(a performer/warrior) and he
chose to continue even when his powers were no longer able to rescue
him. In fact, not being a GD fan all my life, but only within the
last 10 years, it was one of the things that attracted me to JG.
This, his, dance with death. He wasn't just singing about IT, he was
living it, no? "And when you hear that song crying in the wind, it
seems that all this life was just a dream". I mean he had this
quality, this relationship to death in that in singing about it,
playing about it, it was like Barry White singing about love-it was
SOULFUL. He could create (along with your words) such an intimate
feeling of the transient quality to life, and make you feel so too,
that you would ache with the knowledge and the passing beauty that
word and sound had made you feel so intensely. Poets are always a
little in love with death, no? Song by its very nature, leaves
nothing of it to hold. Is the intention of good art to awaken in us
these eternal truths, is there anything deeper to get at that song
and art and music, by their limited nature can't reveal? I wonder.
Blake, with his words, wanted to open the eternal eyes of man inwards
ever expanding in the bosom of God. Did they do this? They inspired
me, but is inspiration all? I ache, I continue...till my time comes
to hear that song.
Anyway, Robert, I love your webpage. Read all the journals,
mailbags etc. You're the only thing happenin on this. Keep the
honest, open, soulful words acomin. Just finished your 8/20 journal,
but despite the fact your front page has 8/20 mailbag, nothing comes
I hope this all didn't sound too cruel, but it just the way it
had hit me these last years. Not to say there wasn't any joy in JG,
even at the end. There was plenty. I can remember JGB at the Warfield
in 94 singing along with the audience for over 20 minutes the chorus
to a song, it felt like church. "Darlin, you are my shining star, dont
you know babe, oh yeah". Jerry: "I'm goin love you till my dyin day,
oh babe". Went for like 20 mins. like that.
He really was gettin off, so were we, it was beautiful.

Take good care,

hmmm. well anything can be looked at in a positive light, and there's a good deal to what you say. You write convincingly.

You write "Poets are always a little in love with death, no?" I think you're probably right. I wonder how the horror of junk addiction fits in with that? I tend to view it as simple naked need - not a little flirtation with the inevitable. A giant parasite that gets in someone and eats them alive from the inside out. I don't dismiss the person or the art because of it. All I can say is "God Damn the Pusher."

Date: Aug 13 1996 11:48 AM EDT
From: 100334.344@CompuServe.COM (bradKLIGERMAN)


Letter of 12Aug'96 you state:
>>it just so happens that
>>this technology fits my idea of how to say things:
>>fast, immediate and irrevocably

It's the _irrevocability_ that has me worried... and entralled...and perhaps
that's what separates the essences of the revolution that sprung from the
infinite wisdom (as my father would say) of _50's consciousness_ with that of
the cynical and ephemeral grasp of what constitutes _THE REAL_ that we are
hauling into the next century.....What is irrevocable or stable within the
grasps of a medium that can interpret the same data, pixels or bits differently
by just changing its context...(ever run a digital recording of _China Cat_
through Photoshop?)
It's not a mistake of cultural dynamics that _post-modernism_ plays in the same fields as digital information....

>>There won't be time to knock patiently and offer credentials.
Thanks, I needed to hear that.....


you said it. "It's not a mistake of cultural dynamics that _post-modernism_ plays in the same fields as digital information...." I think this is a fluid time of breakdown of arbitrary distinctions. New distinctions will arise. It's up to us to define the direction they will take, at this priviliged juncture.

Date: Aug 21 1996 4:03 PM EDT
From: Cabezasfam
Subj: feedback to your journal circa 8/8/96

rh Greetings. In your journal there is reference to immortality as more illusionary than actual. May I share with you the gist of a poem written by Rumi, the general theme is such: first iwas a rock and then i died, then i was a flower and then i died, becoming fish then bird with death as the door way to each, i died again to become a tiger, then from dying to birthing i finally came to be a human. I ask you now, what has death ever done to me that is of harm.
the funny thing about my relationship to the theme in Rumi's poem is that while my heart intuits this to be true, my fragile human heart still feels the pangs of the deaths of those whom i love. Perhaps it has to do with this mystery of our humanity and our divinity. To deny one for the other at this time, for me, would do injustice to the whole mystery, I imagine. Take care , may health be with you and your love walk ever by your side. Tom


it's all a fine mystery. No reason not to hope for the best. It's probably even better than that.

Subj: Quotes
Date: Aug 21 1996 3:41 PM EDT


Just a little note I had to share.

We have a 3 year old daughter Rosalie who is way beyond her years. She went
to 1 Dead show (Shoreline 94 and shared our only west coast show in 25 years
of east coast shows) and the Furthur Festival. Her favorite song is Sugaree,
which she sings and dances around the house.

Anyway, the other day out of the blue she tells me "Jerry Garcia is not in
the Grateful Dead anymore, he's in another Grateful Dead now". How true.

On a more political note. There was a picture of Bob Dole on the front page
of the newspaper and I asked her if she knew who it was and she said "He's
just an old man whoses wishes won't come true" I had to write that one down.
Maybe I should have her play the lottery for me.

John Potenza

Date: Aug 21 1996 5:24 PM EDT
From: JGDeBoer
Subj: is this really robert hunter?

i came across this web site courtesy of rolling stone magazine. although i haven't spent loads of time checking out all the links, one link i found interesting was the one where you could buy some of "dick's picks" over the phone... something i will definately look into.

in the case of this link, the mailbag part of robert hunter's archive surprised me. to be able to reach someone like you ( if in fact you truly do read and answer them) is astonishing to me. i'm kind of new at all this computer stuff ( within the last year) and i like to send out random e-mails in hope of a, hopefully you will respond.

one question i do have is, do you know of anyplace or anywhere i can have bootlegs made of dead shows past? i really love having the tapes of various shows, and would like to improve and update my collection. please let me know if you have time. thank you.



yeah it's me all right. No I don't know how you can improve your bootleg collection.

Date: Aug 22 1996 4:36 PM EDT


WOW!!!! thank you so much for taking the time to reply. as far as improving the bootleg collection, would you suggest looking on the net and getting to people that way?
and what are your thoughts on the "dick's picks"? i've never heard about them. can you fill me in?

thanks again.

umm - listen my friend, giving advice on bootleg collections and Grateful Dead recordings, merchandising and miscellany is not really in my line. Maybe you could look around my Archive site a bit and get a feel for what I'm up to and see if it interests you before writing further? Thanks.

Subj: Giant's Harp
Date: Aug 21 1996 4:46 PM EDT
From: (Julie)

RH- i just had to write to tell you how much i love the Giant's
Harp. GREAT BOOK. Great story. Since I have nothing to do at work EVER, I
open up to The Giant's Harp and escape to a fantasy world until the clock
strikes and i have to leave. Alas, /i have come to the final posted
chapters and my brain is crying out for more, when can we expect to see the
rest of the story? I don't mean to push, by all means take your time. But
please understand, it is WONDERFUL. Three more chapters you say?? Maybe I
should pace myself, i won't have anything left to do at 'work'. Thanks for
the story, it's incredible.


6 more to go. 21 chapters in all. I publish one chapter per update of the site, which tends to be twice a month. It's not a purposeful tease, it takes me that long to finish each chapter.
Glad you like it. If there's nothing more on my site to engage your attention, or on DeadNet, may I suggest taking a look at
or enterzone at:
Those are my two favorite places on the net. Both are jam packed with thousands of pages of interesting stuff.

Date: Aug 21 1996 7:16 PM EDT
From: Sagepatch
Subj: eternal search

Dear Mr. Hunter:

I would like this opportunity to thank you. I realize you have no idea who i am, or what i stand for. But, anyways, your pieces of poetry have very much helped me on my way.. I can understand that you hear this all the time. So without anymore ramblings....thanks.

"laugh in the sunshine....sing.....cry in the through the night."


of course I know who you are. You're the guy with a little bit of my own thoughts in his head. Which means you know me some too. You're welcome.

Date: Aug 21 1996 7:32 PM EDT
From: KCromano
Subj: Your Letter to Jerry


I just wanted to say thanks for some incredible and inspiring lyrics and thanks for your letter to Jerry. Specifically the part about Bob taking it so hard. People are being down right mean and I agree I think it's just a backlash to Jerry's death. The problem is when I say it nobody cares to believe but now that you've said it people may actually listen and take your advice. It's pretty funny how some of the kindest people really aren't that kind when it comes down to it. Well just wanted to speak my peace and pass on my perspective. Thanks again. -KCR

I hope they do. I find it damned hard to believe that shit like that is coming out of the Grateful Dead scene. Pure dirthead meanness right when we need every bit of decent attitude we can lay hold of to show the world we were on to something they can learn from and which is worth preserving. Not just another fucking dogfight crowd.

Date: Aug 21 1996 11:52 PM EDT
Subj: Love-O-Gram


Your work is so loved therefore you are loved. That must be a great feeling to have so many people LOVE something you created.

With Much Love,

Leonor Erquiaga

it's a fine reward for those thousands of days spent trying to figure out a rhyme for spoon other than June or moon. But I loved, and love, my work. I did, and do, it for that - and I hope it shows. Thanks. By the way, you have a lovely name.

Subj: feedback
Date: Aug 22 1996 3:44 AM EDT

Thank you for letting all of us participate in the conversation of two
exploring wonderful souls. I am entranced and wander back to many of my own experiences.
Please keep this up. Terrence , I am just starting to explore some of your
ideas and am enjoying the exploration and Robert your lyrics and the boys
playing have soothed my soul for years. Take care brothers.
Love, Barrett

we intend to keep it up. Soon as Terence gets back from his lecture tour we should be firing up Orfeo again. He's got a beat up old laptop with him that makes email sending difficult, if not impossible.

Date: Aug 21 1996 10:37 PM EDT
From: RStaplziii

I'm 26. I saw my first show in Richmond Va., my hometown, in '84, I think. I fell asleep during space. In '85 I saw them again in Richmond with my uncle, he's a year older. We took what the seller said was Red Dragon acid, Jimmy Page's supposed favorite. Amazing. High up in the colisium, no pun, before the band came out, the swirling movements on the floor suddenly took an amorphous description. Tring harder to focus under the bright lights I could see a distinct grid of squares on the floor, about 12 by 4. The lines separating the squares were infinitely narrow and sharp. Within each perfect square the movement of the people became whirlpools of color that whizzed into the center. Then the lights went out and you can imagine the rest. That show was my only Lost Sailor/St of Circumstance, Gloria, and Comes a Time and I was never to be the same again. I was stunned at my ability to handle my hip baby boomer mother when I got home that night. While my hero, my uncle (he taught me all I know--would you believe that we heard that song at every show we saw together, I'm pretty sure, 7 or 8 at least) flopped around laughing, I was able to look my mother in the eye with a straight face and convince her that maybe her little brother had inhaled too much of the air at the concert or something (not that she bought that) but that I "was fine". That, of course, all changed. If I even think about dosing now-a-days total strangers will come up and ask me if I'm feeling O.K. Hey listen, check out this poem my girlfriend wrote:

A dark lord, enclosed,
Comforted, by stone walls,
Does not understand
Why his Lady must
Leave the cold safety
For green, mossy woods,
She sinks marble
White hands into moist
Ground, and grips life.
Twists and molds it,
Until she has rooted
Arm, torso, velvet grown
Unto the earth,
Quietly accepting her.

She would freak (in a good way) to have you critique it (that is if she's not too pissed that I sent it to you in the first place). We were having a little tiff at the time, that's why it's a little dark, but most of her good stuff is her dark stuff. Her name is Sarah, she's 23 and starting her second year of her master's in English this Fall. She's living with me now, but is going back to school at Villanova this weekend. I'll be staying here in Charlottesville, Va., to start my own master's of environmental science.

Anyway, this letter has been slightly more like the "everyday me". I realize that you probably suspect me to be just a wee bit bent from our exchanges thus far, but I'm not really. I'm just a little bit more accepting of the fact that there's is more going on around us than most will admit or even try to see. But as far as keeping the dishes done and passing sobriety tests, I'm all over it.

But like I say, I know that writing letters to you everyday is not too cool. But getting you to respond to me is, let's face it, one the trippiest experience I could have imagined. I mean you're like a prophet, not to lay anything too heavy on you. But I'll tell you what, how about I write one letter to you and you just get back to me whenever you get the chance; a day, a week, a month, a year even, it's all good, as they say now-a-days. Who knows, maybe one day you'll invite me out your way to tie one on and contemplate "the force".

Let me see if I can give you something to gnaw on for your response, beyond the poem. The Civil War was neither civil nor a war (no, that's just a joke, from Saturday Night Live's "Coffee Talk" skit, did you get it, have you seen it? I'm a real "television child", in the words of Jim Morrison. I constantly make references to TV that a lot of people don't get--bad habit I imagine). But seriously, take my wife please. No, but seriously (I'm making you think I'm loony again aren't I--that's why I didn't get into medical school; my grades were good enough, but I couldn't stop cracking jokes the whole way throught the interviews. Oh well, those grapes were probably sour anyway), but seriously, I don't know. I'm out of questions I guess. All's well and everything is crystaline! No, I've got a good one. What do you think of the band Phish? A whole lot of the heads are hanging with those guys now. But if you want to talk about a lack of direction, then, why don't we then? Uh, what I'm saying is that in my opinion they lack the lyrics to make it all worth while. But man, can they jam. I mean they can just rip it open like no one could ever dream. Maybe I need to get out more, but swheww! But it just seems too often like they're beating their (or my) heads against a wall. Because, when you get right on wit it, that's what made the Dead so great, it was the LYRICS. Which reminds me, what do ya mean you're not a star? O.K., maybe your not a comet, but a star you are my friend and more. I mean you wrote the stuff.
I can't imagine what would have become of Jerry had he not met you. He'd probably be a Colonel or some shit, living in Guantonomo Bay right now. Na, no way right. I mean I would still hitch hike across two states to hear him do the complete Devo anthology on accordian. But you were the key. But I don't know. Now I'm thinking that maybe you guys where peas in a pod. But I do have a point here and that is that Jerry was not the most technically stellar player that ever walked. He had his own unmistakable stlye, in playing and composing, and a sweet touch that could just make you cry, true. But the ace in the whole (as opposed to Bob, who is the Ace in the sleeve) was the "right on" lyrics that allowed him to just sort of be himself and let it shine. He didn't have to beat your head against the wall to get your attention. He had something to say! And although clearly he had plenty to say on his own, the most universal and timeless things he said, well you said 'em first. Now I say 'em too. Thanks man, for real thanks. But anyway, cheers. Write me back one day would you.

Rob from the East

P.S. If for some reason you'd like to put this in the mail bag I guess that's cool.

whew. Take a deep breath, friend. You said all that in one sentence, never mind the punctuation.
Allow me to take exception with your put down of Phish's lyrics. I don't think comparing them with the Dead's does them the right kind of justice. They funcion, and I think well, within the context of the music. My lyrics have a tendency to, umm, kind of take over a set of changes. This is good if it's good, but dangerous practice. The Dead were able to rise to the challenge by playing more powerfully yet to hold their own ground. Not every composer wants that kind of challenge. In fact, few do. They want the accent to be on the singer and the music, not the complexity of the lyric. That's not pop music, it's something else - and only a well indoctrinated public is going to accept it. If it fails, it sounds pretentious, which is death to a pop group.
Sarah's poem is very good. You have a week or more to check with her before I print this letter, so please do so. I don't want to put out someone's work without authorization.

Date: Aug 22 1996 4:33 AM EDT
From: (Tom Ross)

re: Emily Dickenson

> erratic metric is problematic, it's a testament to her greatness that it
> doesn't matter much. Was it ineptitude, carelessness or an act of rebellion
> to lacerate the limited modes in which she cast her impressions?

oh no, I think it's the music she heard, that and the great half-rhymes. Do you know the Robert Johnson 3-volume set with all the variations? Also I
heard they've found MORE letters with more poems. incredible output, esp
during the 1860s. scary, almost.

Did she
> believe she would live to correct it later and so press on, unconcerned with
> finding an alternative word, with lawful meter, in a flood of fleeting
> perceptions?

The Johnson answers some of this.

Lonely magnitude. Even her malicious streak is pure.


> I wonder: what would it be like to eat Emily Dickinson? I feel, almost, one
> does eat her by the act of reading her.


It seems an affront to read these
> very private thoughts without invitation.


> Where my feet go I must follow.

a koan I've worked into a song:

you cannot save what you want to follow.

> The tall woman with the mask


"There's a man who wants to go home. But the man in the mask won't let
him.". . . do you know it?

> She lies in a bed of daisies. I tell the crone I'd like a few thin slices of
> flank to start.

odd. I had this dream about a South Indian recipe overseen by the great
dancer Balasaraswati which involved slicing my mother in half.

> "Water-lily feet steeped in fern-odors from untraveled roads, aristocratic
> clover and flowers that zealous blew,

what's this from?

> summer days. This one is a light dressing drawn from the purple brook within
> the breast,

I'll take that one.

> lawn and a hubbub as of feet."

or that one. When Cage was asked to submit music for an airport? they
rejected all his ideas:"now the airport has the unaccompanied sound of
feet." or something like that.

other?" > "That's low-fat ranch style dressing. Paul Newman makes it."


> the crone: "Maybe I'd like to try a bit of the heart after all."
> "But Sir, that was the heart!"

artichoke, of course. or celery.

> delicatessen. I didn't bother to return for it. Criminal non-fiction is my
> thing. I haven't read another poem to this day; felt no need to. I'm a
> vegetarian.

cool baby. do you know Ken Nordine's Word Jazz? reminds me a bit of it.

know it? I memorized it back in the '60s.

(nb: For those tuning in late, the above discussion contains parts of my work "Eating Emily Dickenson" from "Glass Lunch" my soon to be released new poetry book. This is not a plug, just an orienting statement of fact.)

The descriptions of the dressings and garnishes are all lifted from various ED poems. You'll have to look through the book to discover which. I've forgotten. Can you imagine scanning Emily for salad dressing components?

Date: Aug 21 1996 4:05 AM EDT
From: TDWoody


I wanted to write and say thank you. Not just for the years of beautiful music that you and Garcia gave to the world, but for the words that continue to flow from your mind, your heart and your pen.

While listening to Mickey Hart's new disc the other day, I was looking out my front window at the Sangre de Cristo range. I've been lucky enough the past few years to live in the shadow of these incredible mountains, and to spend much of my free time hiking and mountain biking through their forests. The passion I feel for them is difficult to put into words.

I'll probably be moving on one day soon, hopefully to new opportunities and equally beautiful mountains. But while listening to lyrics of "Sangre de Cristo," I realized that wherever I go, those words will be there to help transport me back to this place of beauty and wonderful memories.

It's no exaggeration to say that your poetry and Jerry's music have provided the soundtrack to much of my life for many years. But never before has one of your songs hit so close to home. Thank you.

Tim Woody


you're entirely welcome.
I can't for the life of me figure why you marked your letter personal when it's so eminently sharable, but will hold it so.

(OK to print received. thanks Tim. I too have a deep affection for the
great red mountain chain from my difficult but halcyon days in New Mexico.)

Subj: Re: 6/7
Date: Aug 20 1996 12:31 PM EDT
From: (Jeffrey Hellman)

Breaking new ground, publishing your journal, reaching out to the
extended family, redefining the interactive web page and the rest; I
guess you're just doing it a different way. It sounded a bit like you
would still be out there but for the complaints of a few techno/other type folks who made you feel you were failing some test.

I'm not asking you to do anything you can't do, especially anything that might jeopordize your health. I was just trying to understand what was really going on, and I admit I get a bit indignant when I hear about engineer's complaining about things like that.

You get to pick from stages that are offered, and maybe transform one into the stage you really want and that's a wonderful thing. Maybe I'll
get a chance to see/hear you at another Christmas party if one happens
again this year. I suppose its partly my own frustration from not getting
out to play as much as I would like that makes this an issue for me.

By the way, your letter to Jerry was so right on, as so many have
responded, I felt like a fly on the wall with him sitting there reading
it. You said so much of what needed to be said and in a way that was not
hurtful. Its almost a study in Grateful diplomacy, the kind of diplomacy
that this country's representatives overseas would probably like to be
able to practice. :-)

So you keep on keepin us on track with your work on the web and I do
appreciate the time and effort it takes to make all of this happen. As it
happens I have somehow been chosen as one of 200 Beta testers for the
@home networks cable modems. This means I have a T1 equivalent connection to the net and can move huge amounts of data over tall buildings in a single mouse click. If I can ever be of any help to you in this or any other way please allow me to volunteer my services.


the closer to your soul you choose your goal
the nearer to your heart the work can start
Jeffrey Hellman

thanks for the pep talk. I'd love to avail myself of your data-sending capabilities. I'd change the webpage a lot more frequently if it weren't such a time consuming bore uploading to UNIX at 1bpm, or so it seems. Unfortunately, I'd have to semi-slow load to you in order for you to reload fast. All I can do is drool over your beta tester and wonder when we'll all get ahold of the real thing. Any clues? It would be so great to up and download information rich graphics just as one chooses, rather than be so penurious about kilobites. All the fast loading graphic skills I've learned will soon be outmoded and good riddance to them!

Date: Aug 22 1996 10:50 AM EDT
From: (Dan McCafferty)

Dear Mr. Hunter: You don't know me, I don't know you. I have been
wrestling with anonymous, yet meaningful, associations in a futile attempt
to dull some hearfelt daggers. In truth, dull weapons can cut deeply, and
they make a bit more of a mess. Song fragments, a quirky phrase here or a
pearl of wisdom there, first attracted me to the band during high school in
the late 70s and soon after I rushed off to college. While there, the
obligatory road trips to shows became tribal affairs that forged many
long-lasting friendships and memories. But the songs were always an
important undercurrent to my daily activities, never far from my wandering
mind. What is particularly intriguing is that many of them were not at all
accessible to me based on early life experiences, but soon unfolded in both
meaning and relevance as I grew older. In 1984, I was recovering from a
near-fatal fall from a rooftop (Side note: roofing can be dangerous during
an Ohio winter) and didn't know what I was going to do with myself. It was
that critical point in life where one can wind up being a priest or a porn
star, depending upon the offer. For these times, you cannot buy a compass
and the past holds no clue, so you search for anything that will help you
through. The songs were not so much a guiding light, but reinforced and
articulated many of my own personal philosophies. Good deeds come back
ten-fold, perseverance is a goal in itself, judgement is an affliction,
paradise is hell in disguise, good things end as do bad, and dreams are
worth living and dying for. These ruminations have become bedrock
underpinnings of my own existence and have served me quite well. As a
musician, songwriter, father of two, and business owner, I thank you for
sharing your gift with all of us. I am somewhat embarrassed to be writing
to you as I loathe "hero worship", and we surely know what it can lead to.
But yours and Jerry's collaborations/contributions were felt by many on a
very personal level, and I wanted to thank one of you some day. And so I
have. P.S. Critics say and never do. Theirs is a luxury of bountiful
thought, inactivity, envy, and self-hatred. Puppies pee on their
pronouncements. - Dan

reason some of the songs didn't "fire" until you were older is only that they were written from an older point of view. When you reached the same age at which I wrote one, it may have been waiting there like a suit of clothes you'd often seen in the closet but had never thought to wear.
I don't view your letter as hero worship in any sense. If I helped tailor a suit or two that happens to fit you, wear it well. That's all the reward I want.

Subj: Thanks
Date: Aug 22 1996 11:14 AM EDT
From: (Karl Edward Wasmuth)

Hi. I'm one of those people who stumbled across your website following the
Rolling Stone article. Don't mean to add to the flood of letters you're
probably going to get as a result, but I just wanted to say thanks for
something(s) you said in your Journal for 8/20/96.

I just had to put down Pandora, my older feline companion. She was a boon
companion for the past 10 years, and a better friend than most. It's been
a couple of days of being in a daze over the hole in your life that a
passing can leave.

I thought your Journal comments on death, grief and the flow of life were
well thought out and phrased. I appreciated having the chance to read
them. Thanks -- Karl

grief over the death of someone you love, human or animal, is entirely a matter of personal significance. It's what it is to you, not to others. I extend you my deepest sympathy on the death of Pandora. Glad you checked in.

Subj: The Net
Date: Aug 22 1996 10:39 AM EDT
From: (Sean Kiely)

Dear Robert,
Hi, my name is Sean, and I'm both a Deadhead (or at least as much as
a 13 year old kid can be) and a nethead. First I would like to say that I
think that Deadnet is a wonderful thing, not just the archive, but the whole
thing in general: I have looked around and it is the most comprehensive
music related Web sight I have ever seen. I frequently visit it and read
your archives and mailbags. Having said that, I think you should explore
another part of it: the IRC server, where deadheads from
all over the country meet and hang out, trade tapes, and make new friends.
We are kinda like a family, and it would be great if you would come or
something. Most people end up at Deadnet around 8:00pm or so every wednesday
night, so if you ever did wish to join us, that would be the best day.

One more thing: is there any way to email Phil? if there is I'd love to know.

Either way, thanks for your time..


/ | \
/ | \
| | |
\ /|\ /

thanks for the invitation. Thing is, by the time I get done with my work on the Archive, the last thing I want to do is ANYTHING else on the computer!
So sorry, but I'm not authorized to give Phil's email number out.
So I guess you kinda struck out emailing me, huh? Good to hear from you anyway. Thanks for the high praise of DeadNet. We've got big plans for it. In a few weeks those planets on the front are gonna rotate and the stars will twinkle! Please write again sometime.

Subj: EMail from my son
Date: Aug 23 1996 12:12 AM EDT

Hello Robert,

I found out today that my son had written you and that you answered. I find
both sides of that equation most amazing. My son is 14, and is as much of a
"deadhead" as anybody. He understands. That indefinable yet real thing that
has lived in me for the last 25 years also lives in him. We went to Furthur
up in Saratoga, and he was hanging out with all his IRC buddies in the
Cybertent and I was thinking to myself it's not like when he was 7 when I
took him to Giants Stadium. He's his own guy now, and he's one of us. "It"
is in him, and once "it" is in you it never leaves you.

We perform together as a duo on a semi-regular basis, and there are a few GD
tunes in our repertoire. The other night we were playing in a bookstore, and
the grins in the audience (and between him and I) as we sang and played
together on songs like Brown Eyed Women and Uncle John's Band were just
beautiful. As he jammed out in the beginning of UJB with some real sweet
licks I couldn't help but think of that image from your Elegy for Jerry
about Jerry living on inside us "with love that never parts". It's so good
to be able to share such a core part of my soul and my life experience with
my son, and to have him do the same with me. Those knowing smiles in the
audience told me some of those people could feel it too.

I'm feeling good about the future these days. This forum has really helped me to
understand, to appreciate, and to move forward. Thank you again.

John Kiely

new ones comin as the old ones go. All is as it should be. Good to hear from you again.

Subj: Internet time
Date: Aug 22 1996 9:32 PM EDT
From: (Sean Kiely)

I know exactly what ya mean by not wantin to be on the computer: I get it
all the time. I design a lot of web pages for people, so I end up just
gettin tired of the net and computers in general. It's gotta be a lot worse
for you, I read in your rolling stone article that you spend like 18 hours
on deadnet a day, Id go crazy! With phils email - I understand, I guess he's
not into the whole mailbag thing as you are, and it was prolly pretty stupid
of me to ask anyway, sorry to impose. I don't feel I struck out in writing
to you though, I think it's great that I actually have the opportunity to
talk to someone who has meant so much to me. The animated gif thing on
DeadNet sounds kool - I plan on puttin one up on my page soon too. Things
like that amaze me when I think about them though, real cool things they got
on these machines. thanks for your time,


not animated gifs, Java! We got machines courtesy of Sun MicroSystems, so anyone without Netscape better get it now.

Date: Aug 22 1996 12:14 PM EDT
From: Groupipc

Dear Robert:

I have many questions but I will focus on one which hopefully you can shed some light on. First a bit of background on me, which may be irrelevant to the question but maybe its a "cant tell the song from the singer" type thing. I am 33 and for a living I am in venture capital. I acquire small to medium size companies and improve them making money for my investors and making the company a better place to work for our employees. The Dead were and are appealing for many reasons not the least of which is I started my endeavor without any money or real contacts but with the thought that if the Dead can follow their dream and make it happen then anyone can. One of the many amazing lessons to be learned from you and them. In any case you've heard this all before, so now for the question.

I know you have been writing about deconstructing the Dead thing. I also find it a facsinating thought process, particularly because you and them have meant so much to me over the past 10 years. Given the positive and also many negatives that came from the scene it may be important to look at it from different directions one of which says it was all about songs and music and nothing else. Fortunately there were byproducts of those two things that led many places including the place that my question is about. In your poem or song about the Dead experience which I taped from David Gan's GD Hour you mention this place that you can see "spires" of what I imagine to be some sort of city or place. That place is the place that you and the Dead opened to me that seems extremely powerful other wordly and makes me somewhat certain that there is much more here than our limited consciousness or intelligence can fathom. In fact it may even somehow offset the negatives and sadness that you speak about anyone should see if they have "both eyes open" (paraphrase from you journal recently).

What are your thoughts on this particularly given that you've taken to deconstructing the whole thing and even mentioned that of late (many of the shows I was able to attend) you can't deny that we were watching and somehow participating in Jerry's demise. (By the way I don't disagree with you that the Dead should be viewed from many different perspectives more than a few of which shined light on the dark side of us which many of us would prefer to not see and that we were taking part in the sad, sad end of Jerry.)

Also, what is the definition of a religion that makes it impossible to somehow put the Dead into the position of a potential genesis of a religion once all the dust has settled we are all gone and songs of life and living and the stories of the reaching this amazing other place (not necessarily with drugs) still remain. Again I don't hold onto this possibility strongly nor do I think it should necessarily happen but I think its interesting to discuss why not.

I also understand the danger of fame, but I still have to say thanks for sharing the thoughts and songs that led me to the most amazing experience of my life and also carried me through some of the hardest times of my life. Finally it is totally clear to me that the evolution of the music early 70's UJB, mid to late Terrapin and Blues for Allah, late 80's Black Muddy River, Standing on the Moon and finally 90's Days Between suggests that any negative critic of the music has not really listened to Days Between, Lazy River Road, So Many Roads etc. which are amazing and are real (not a rehash of a time past but from the present.)

Very truly yours,

Brian Pomerantz

not deconstructing the Grateful Dead, but deconstructing the standardised mythology which accompanies stardom, skewers all sense of proportion, and is no good to anybody. The precise value of the GD is that they were NOT that. Jerry's personal life would only be of much interest to anyone as an example of an idol with feet of clay: iconoclasm practiced on someone who tried not to be an icon and wasn't allowed not to be.

Why not a religion? Because we've been through that before a thousand times and look where it leads. There are a thousand and one religions, but only one Grateful Dead. Let it be what it was without making it into something it wasn't.

Thanks for your letter. The questions are good.

Date: Aug 22 1996 3:45 PM EDT
From: (Eliot Greenspan)


thanks for yr prompt and personal response. I'm glad you liked the poem and
I've just sent a "hard copy" of my book "Map of You, Map of Me" to your P.O.
Box. You'll be glad to know I've knocked off/caught up on all other backed
up correspondence and so feel no guilt this time in the writing, which is
also no longer entirely "out of the blue."

I've been reading yr translations of the Elegies and am impressed with their
simple lyric flow in the face of such grandious themes and subject matter.
As a translator myself, I appreciate yr use of concise and economical
syntax. Rilke aims high, like Whitman, and likewise pulls it off. There's a
truckload of wonderful epigrams and epiphanies throughout the work, yet he
also brings the metaphysical down to earth quite regularly, with rock solid
images (moreso, than Walt). Thanks, my knowledge of Rilke had been limited
to the "Letters To A Young Poet" & the Panther, and who knows where else I
might have found the impetus to delve into his work. Now I have.

This end, I mostly translate relatively modern Nicaraguan (Beltran Morales,
Michele Najlis, Daisy Zamora) & Cuban (Virgilio Pinero, Felix Contrereas)
poets, and have a project going with a local Costa Rican poet/novelist
putting Ted Berrigan into Spanish.

as for the rest of yr site/archives, I'm working my way thru bunches of it.
Mostly the jounals and mailbag for starters. I look forward to delving soon
into your specifically poem on the page efforts as well as "The Giant's
Harp" (although I resent upon first glance finding out that Eliot is "the
feebleminded uncle"). Yr lyrics are obviously something that have been
bouncing around my consciousness for years now--and you've probably had more
than enuf said and asked on that front.

You've quoted/paraphrased somewhere recently (either responses to letters or
journals) two of my favorite Williams slogans (no ideas but in things & so
much depends) as well as Whitman's "Do I contradict myself, very well..."
Words to live by. I now am fond of:

Beauty is as close to terror
As we can well endure

I think at one point you worried about being too much of a gossip, which
reminds me of a friend who recently taught a class/workshop on "high
gossip," which has a hallowed history in poetry--Sappho and Catullus, spring
to mind; Sam Johnson, Alex Pope; Dante, essentially a (moralizing) gossip;
Gertie Stein in the Autobiography; Kerouac was quite the gossip; and of
course, my favorite gossip, Frank O'Hara.

anyhow, I know yr a busy correspondent, and this is (mostly) just to say the
poems are in the mail...

abrazos, Eliot

(P.S. Be patient that I address you in a poem, there is no other fit medium):

Inverse Epiphany 2

putting petals
on the daisy

she loves me...
she loves me not...

deep kisses
in a sunny
city park

until we are back again
on the 5:20 to Santa Ana

smooth flesh
through torn jeans
she smiles

and I am left
holding my head


"Oh God!
not this

sorry about using your name for my villain. Perhaps you will feel it in your heart to sympathize with him?! Giant's Harp is being serialized as I get the chapters finished - should be another 2 and a half months (6 more) to completion. But, plot aside, you may want to check out some of the ambitious lyric work in it. One of the reasons-to-be of the book is to give a context for a sort of lyric which just otherwise could not be written.

Ted Berrigan into Spanish? G'wan! Is there anything so loco in Spanish, or will he give a new definition to the word? I wish I could read Spanish so I'd be able to judge the result. Noble idea. Much luck.

O'Hara, oh yes, we know about him - why, just the other day Frank said . . .

Your poem, once more, superb!

Subj: thanks for being alive
Date: Aug 22 1996 2:57 PM EDT
From: (Anne Herbert - Women's Multiversity)

There are a lot of ways to serve the spirit or whatever, and one is to
continue to exist and say true shit.

Something about the combination of the spirit and our culture can make it
hard for people to stay in the body. I appreciate that you've made whatever
choices that you've made to be in your body, on the planet and cogent, to
write what you're writing lately, like particularly your letter to Jerry.

Thank you. Keep it up.

2. I have a 2 page piece about music and the sprite and the spirit I would
liek to send you and it is on paper only, not e-mailable.

Do you have a physical address I could send it it to? It's called "She'll
be coming round the mountain"


On the very slim but barely possible chance that there's no afterlife, I'm going to try to get the most mileage out of this one and leave my footprints all over the place. Actually, I'm just hanging around to find out what the hell I'm gonna say next.

Thanks for the merit badge.

mail address:
c/o Grateful Dead
PO Box 1073
San Rafael, Ca.

Subj: checkin' in
Date: Aug 23 1996 3:20 AM EDT
From: Pete.Cepuch


been rummaging through your web-site for about a month, now and
what could I possibly say that the many who have already responded
haven't already said? I've been having alotta good laughs with all
the folks who access your site at work; as the corporate wheezers
are having much trouble getting a handle on controlling all of this.
A few years ago, the engineers(with the worried minds)got us up a
UNIX station and bingo--we were on the net. The managers would come
around and there would be stuff up on the screen--from somewhere
out there and they thought(naturally)we were working on h*neywell
(I'll follow the usual netiquette-convention regarding nasty words)
stuff. So to all you internet-accessin'- workin' -folks out there: keep up
the good work and remember that the best things in life are FREE!

I was introduced to the dead by a lovely-lady in 1973. Saw 'em in
Springfield, Mass, in the spring--opening song: Cumberland-Blues--funny how
all this stuff works out. I lost the lady
but gained the dead. Saw 'em over the years all over the east-coast,
colorado and also here in Phoenix--last time in Dec 1992. Last song:
Nazereth. It's been a great ride so far....

Saw the Furthur Fest here in Phx. and had a wonderful time. HOT TUNA was great as was Bruce, etc. and enjoyed Mystery
Box--though it's the first time I've heard them so of course I'll
have to get the album--excellent--as all the great music you folks
have produced over the years always seems to grow on you, kinda
like creeps up and BLAM...always expect the unexpected.

I really like your website, man, as I've been trying to catch up
on all this wonderful stuff you've written over the years-whew-
"Strange Music"--whew--and on and on kudos upon kudos. Giant's Harp: I'm only up to chapter six, so far, but it is wonderful --gigantic-- entrancing -- another whew!

The mailbag is also a treat. Lots of good folks out there, hangin'
in-thru life's various storms(ahem)with the energized-kindness that
I've seen only among deadheads, for the most part, as opposed to
all the different-kinds-of-heads in this world. It's been magical
being a part of this, hey folks!?

So anywaze, mazel tov, Robert, thanks for doin' all of this
stuff and keep it comin', I'm readin' as fast as I can....

In freedom,

Pete (whew) Cepuch


thanks for checking in. You actually read "Stange Music"? Whew. You're all-right in my book." Energized kindness" is a good way of describing the experience of what our community has to offer at its best. The rest is window dressing. I think it may be easier yet to feel that rare energy in smaller crowds. Let's hope it never gets out of hand size-wise again.
Look, I'm going to cut your email address & etc. off your letter because there's no point in wising the marks at a big corporation is there? Whew.

yeah--good point about "wising the marks" etc. Guess I got carried
away there...seems like there's alotta that ol' ice-cream-cone-kid
left--whoops--thanks for lookin' out for us corporate subterraneans...
Pete Cepuch

Date: Aug 23 1996 4:06 PM EDT
From: (John Salmon)

Hey Robert,

How've you been? It's been a while. Feel like we're old friends here. Maybe
we are in a sense.

I've been doing some reading about Gnostic Christianity and the
Gospel According to Thomas & (...Oh, weird, "Look Away" just came on the
radio...WXPN in Philly has been giving Mystery Box a lot of play...) anyway
there's some stuff in there that reminded me of some of your stuff & I
wondered if you'd keyed into that stuff, & if so when? (...Now they're
interviewing Mickey...he's talking about you! Weird! Hey, he called you
prophetic and brilliant.)

I know a lot of this gnostic stuff is also seen elsewhere (Hinduism,
Buddhism, etc.). Just thought I'd ask you about it.

Here's a couple examples that jumped out at me. Other stuff's been a bit
more subtle.

From The Gospel According to Thomas:

9 Jesus said, Look, the sower went out, took a handful (of seeds), and
scattered (them). Some fell on the road, and the birds came and gathered
them. Others fell on rock, and they didn't take root in the soil and didn't
produce heads of grain. Others fell on thorns, and they choked the seeds and
worms ate them. And others fell on good soil, and it produced a good crop:
it yielded sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure.


17 Jesus said, "I will give you what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard,
what no hand has touched, what has not arisen in the human heart."

Well, if you have anything to say about this stuff, please send it my way.
'preciate it. (now they're playing "Down the Road")

Take care now,



looks like you got into a little synchronicity conjunction there.

Gnosticism is by and large all the stuff that got weeded out of official Catholicism at some early council I can't remember the name of and were branded heresies. There were a number of Apocalyptic books. Very visionary and fanciful. But the church had to get their story straight, there were too many sects, and a lot of them had conflicting teachings. Lots of good stories in the Gnostic gospels, especially about Adam and his adventures. Philip K. Dick had a keen appreciation of Gnosticism and wrote many of his novels along those themes.

Date: Aug 24 1996 12:44 AM EDT
From: JJG4Ever
Subj: Glad Tidings from NY

just finished reading your 8/20 journal - very inciteful stuff

i've been thinking alot lately about all the GD experiences i've had since my long strange trip embarked in 1980 - one of the best was a RH show at Al's Warehouse
in Oswego NY (it's such a dump, you can't trash the place) Most Enjoyable!!! ;-}

But that's not important anymore, because i recently became a father for the first time!

Little Lucas is by far the most amazing and important thing to happen to me in my short 33 years here, and after reading your journal it struck me - while i'd previously thought that Jerry and the Dead were all that mattered, there is so much more to life than i'd experienced before. While i don't regret my decision to follow the GD (it surely taught me many valuable lessons), it all seems so miniscule when compared to what i'm faced with now

What a differance a day makes - what a differance a life makes

So the spirit will live on, but it will have to wait until i change the diaper

keep up the good work, a truly fine webmeister art thou

Mike Signer

well I remember Oswego! If I didn't write that line about Al's (& I mighta) it would have been about Lupo's Hearbreak Hotel in Prividence.

Ultimate Congratulations on Lucas! It was Kate coming along that made me finallly decide the time had come to play my game closer to home. She wasn't going to be raised by an occasional dad if I could help it.

Eventually you'll be wanting some music to change that diaper to. That's where we come in.

The following letter & reply contains plot elements from later chapters of Giant's Harp. Some of you may not want to read it at this point.

Subj: Superstition
Date: Aug 25 1996 11:20 AM EDT
From: (Tom & Nancy Melito)

Dear Robert,

The latest chapter of the Giant's Harp is one of my favorites. Gia's letter
and Jabajaba's reaction to it weave a powerful spell. I'm intrigued by the
distinction drawn in that letter between what would have been a
"superstitious" belief in Gia's admonishment regarding the double seals and
opening the letter, on one hand, and Gia's matter of fact discussion of the
reality of 1st, on the other. The practical distinction beween "true"
belief and superstition is difficult to grasp.

I would hate to have had Jabajaba's choice (leaving way aside how much I
would really have HATED to go through what he did in the desert.) I know
this is the realm of intuition and character, but hey we all have bad days.
I fear that if I was in a similar situation, the choice would come on the
one day when I shouldn't be trusted to tie my shoes, let alone save a city.
Of course his wrong choice would probably nullify the last third of the
story, so we'll cut the author some slack here.

The dichotomy between magic (religion usually) and superstition has often
been used by one religion to nullify another. "Our" ridiculous hats and
silly chants come from Heaven, theirs, well..... Even in the realm of
personal magic, I refuse to discount someone's use of something as barbaric
as a rabbit's foot, since my less material crutches have no more of an
objective basis.

This is probably further afield than you intended with that passage, but I
consider this a mystery. Where does magic end and superstition begin?

Fare Thee Well,

Tom Melito

there are instructions to Jabajaba in Lit's letter, in the blue book, to follow his own inclinations if a desirable outcome is to occur. And Gia instructed J. to take the book along. She knows J's skeptical nature, earlier examples are given, and instructs him to do something which is against his nature, knowing full well he will more than likely disobey; in fact counting on it. She does not go so far as to swear him to her supposed desires. There is further discussion of this quandry in the next chapter which will shed a bit more light on her knowledge of Jabajaba's predispositions.

As of chapter 14, Jabajaba has only circumstantial evidence of the reality of Ist. Even with that he doesn't give it a lot of credence. But the hocus pocus of the seals doesn't engage his belief for one moment. After his ordea, he isn't about to play pattycake with some old lady over a document that probably concerns his future. In other words, he chooses to know, rather than to act on faith in something he doesn't much credit to begin with. This is why he is valuable to Gia. He trusts his own lights.

Subj: denial of death
Date: Aug 26 1996 12:51 AM EDT
From: (Joseph W. Murray)

dear Robert,
Just a quick note. Was reading your 8/20 journal where you
mentioned that you
often thought about how death doesnt seem a reality for ourselves-only for
the other
person-that we can never see ourselves dying. This is something I've
about for years also. A book that I found very interesting on this very
was Ernest Becker's "Denial of Death". Not a very cheerful sounding title
but a very illuminating one. He wrote another book that I thought very
Structure of Evil? I think was the title. He referred and acknowledged
much of his thinking to the psychologist Otto Rank who also wrote
some very relevant things. He was the shrink who knew Henry Miller,
Anais Nin and others in early 30's Paris. Anyway I'd highly recommend
the book. Woody Allen used it as a prop for his neurotic death-obssessed
comic character in Annie Hall BTW.
Also reminds me of what is said in Book of Ecclesiastes about God
putting eternity or desire to live forever in our hearts.
Ran into CD of you reading your poetry called Sentinel, bought it , took
it to my bookshop,put it on computers CD player and listened while working
on the computer. Had to stop many times to listen to you. I know this
probably wasnt best way to listen but was just a warm up for me.
You're a great reader Robert. Great poems and you've a great voice
and feeling in your reading. And I used to go to many many poetry
readings over the years and as they say "I've seem 'em all."
Plan to listen to it many more times God willin. Your recording
of Kerouac's SF Blues should be great. Mean that sincerely, no bull.
Anyway just wanted to pass that on about the Becker book
and espress my appreciation for Sentinel.Keep up the good work
and the fine fight.
Joe Murray.

thanks for encouragement about my poetry reading. Appreciate it.
Read both of Becker's books fifteen years ago, around the same time I wrote "Touch of Gray. " (Yes, I spell it both ways) Found them very illuminating. The end section of "Denial" was especially memorable: Becker's frightening childhood high dive into the water after performing the ritul of crossing himself, though not Catholic, because he saw his Italian friends doing so - and thus discovering the fear reducing property of ritual.

Subj: Belated Comments on the Journal, "letter to garcia" and the Furthur Festival
Date: Aug 25 1996 10:05 PM EDT
From: (joseph atkins)

Dear Robert,

Just a few belated comments and congratulations from a fan in the back row.
Your "letter to garcia" was most thought provoking. I guess you could say
that it took a few weeks for me to really think about it. Mostly, I would
say "right on". But a few observations.

My wife and I recently attended the closing Furthur show in Phoenix.
Reading the local media accounts, you would think that the whole affair
was a wipeout of unbelievable proportions - a final gasp of a long
suffering beast - or some such nonsense. Once again, the mainstream fails
to connect with the true underlying spirit and message of the show.
Suprise, suprise - where have we heard that before? But, WE found it to
be completely enjoyable. The old spirit was still there, minus some of the
excesses that seem to have attached themselves to the recent past shows
(as you alluded to in your letter). Maybe it was especially pleasing to be
there because we had been away for so long and were afraid that the vision
had passed and was long forgotten. But the vision still lives and still
grows, but now new seeds are starting to sprout. This time, with fewer
people and a much mellower crowd, trouble was few and far between. There
was little in the way of meanness and the previous circus-like atmosphere
to interfere or crowd the music...or the message. Bobby, Bruce, Mickey and
others have picked up the torch and are carrying it well.

As many, the past year brought a multitude of emotions and thoughts: things
that were and things that might have been. Confusion tinged with sweet
memories, heartaches compounded with an uncertain future. With time though, comes a certain distanced vision or, if you want, a new way of looking at things. The funeral flowers seem to have dropped some seeds, and from what I could see at Phoenix, the seeds are just starting to sprout.

I can't but help make a comparison to the awful fires that swept through
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming about five years ago. This may seem an off-the-wall comparision - but please hear me out.

It seems that vast stretches of the park and surrounding forestland
had been destroyed. Stunning wilderness had been reduced to rubble. Many
were crying that the damage would last fifty years, and in the meantime,
all was ruined. Looking at the scene then, it would be hard not to come
to the same conclusion. But, a visit there several years later proved
that the grief would be short lived. The very fire that destroyed
the canopy of the forest could not destroy it's foundation. In fact, it
allowed seeds to grow and plants to grow where none could before.
Now, the young forest is regrowing in Spring-like fashion, with more and
more diverse plant and animal life than possible before...the cycle
begins again and will continue.

I'm beginning to understand the comparison and am much less concerned
about what the future will bring. WE will survive!

In closing, I find room for optimism. It is kind of exciting to think of
the possibilities for the future. One door closes and another opens.

If no one has mentioned it before, the web page is magnificent. The
journal, the mailbag, the whole deal is the new gathering place,
the new scene. Like you, I hope that the old organization doesn't
crumble, but that it adapts and continues. You don't know just how much
a 'home' will keep the family together. Congratulations on a job well
done. I hope your time overseas proved rewarding.

Joe from Texas

P.S. A local Dead oriented radio hour in the area recently played some
interesting stuff from 1978. It was from a performance of yours
in Pennsylvania. Talk about a blast from the past! :)

a good letter. Made me feel again the importance of keeping a continuity in the GD locus - but, even should we fail in that duty, when one door closes another opens, as you so correctly observe. I sometimes wonder if it isn't absolutely necessary for old doors to close before new ones CAN open?

Somewhere or other, a long time ago, I read that the primary rule of magic is that you can have anything you wish for, provided you no longer care if you get it or not! True or not, an interesting thought to assimilate. It might, for instance, indicate that other considerations than our personal desires should be held paramount. Seems like the whole shooting match may be based on a Catch 22!

Thanks for the good review of DeadNet & the Archive. If we just keep doing what we do for no other reason than that it falls withing our capability to do, expecting approximately nothing of it, most especially not material reward, we might find that we are, indeed, an opening door. Tall order, huh?

Date: Aug 25 1996 5:02 PM EDT
From: (jklepinger)

i can't help but be drawn back to the chicken-and egg point of consciousness and reality. not that it really matters which order things occur, it's just that the dynamic of the question itself poses so many other intriguing questions.

it seems that for us, consciousness occurs in the individual who derives his/her mode of interpretation of reality (at least in the beginning) from the cultural mode that they experience directly. this shared reality, occurring through language, for many will ultimately become the totality of reality. but what I think many of us are moving to is discovering and viewing reality in a fundamentally different way. the interplay between the individual and the social consciousness is where the friction of these changes always occurs; naturally so, for we are (or at least have been) inseparable parts of what it is that is human. now, i think, i'm coming to my point (which i suspect many others like you esteemed gentlemen have already been), it is that language is the currency of consciousness.

now that's not to say that language IS consciousness, but rather it is the lens, or the algorithm with which reality is interpreted. (this is where i hear the voice say "duh!") but language primarily has evolved as a descriptor of the natural world; thus as we come to points in consciousness where reality exceeds the ability of language to describe, we have to knock our heads for a while until we can figure out a way to describe and share the experience. this comes back full circle to the analogy of language, whether it's verbal or mathematical or musical or whatever-al, not being the thing itself, but only a descriptor of the thing itself. yet in the case of direct experience of reality or novel thinking or creating (which incidentally only us individuals get to do) it IS the thing itself. how then will this be communicated to the shared consciousness? that is the role of the invidual, and it doesn't have to happen at all. thus the whole of the shared consciousness is just the sum of a subset of individual consciousnesses thrown into the pot. sorry, i don't mean to get too intense about this whole thing, but it gives me something fun to muse on when i can't sleep. where this continually brings me is, where is this whole thing going? after all, the inexorable direction has always been evolution and change. it seems that it is our lot to continue the struggle to work for the "good"; not that it's better than the "bad" (what AM i saying?) it's just that it's pretty obvious that evil is the black hole of consciousness. i'm pretty fond of the light myself. this is where i stand when i try to look "forward" in the time continuum.

it seems that Terence McKenna is right regarding time as history becoming an obsolete concept. we have described things historically in the natural language of that stage of existance, but time is only relative in einsteinian sense. that same principal is true of every other natural descriptor we use to generate realty: space, hyperspace... i think i'd better stop here. it goes on and on but if you obsess too much, you only get more confused, not less.

i must pay a debt of gratitude once again to rh. it has been my continuing enjoyment of his
archive, journal, and the incredible communications of others (not to mention this little forum) that has allowed me to remove these thoughts from my reality, and to try to share them with others. may the fair winds fill your sails.

p.s. "consciousness" as a word is just too damn long, and my fingers can't type it right the
first time to save my soul. any suggestions?

how about "qwerty" - you need only run your fingers across the top left letter keys. Good idea to abandon the "C" word. "Consciousness" comes with too much accumulated baggage anyway. Better, even, to erase the concept and start from scratch. Do you realize that there are actually groups of people who believe that paying good money to learn to focus on one object (such as a string of syllables, breathing, or a single point) will lead to "expansion" of "consciousness"? They call this practice meditation. It might be worthwhile if it led to an understanding that it can't be done and a resolution to abandon all such attempts to enforce simplistic ego designs upon the meta-phenomenon of awareness. The content of awareness is: that which one is aware of. Awareness itself cannot be a an object of awareness. It may seem that it can be, but that seemingly reflexive loop is only an awareness of a definition of awareness, consciousness OF something, not "consciousness" itself. Furthermore, what I've just said is NOT the exception that proves the rule. I'm only indicating the point where awareness and language *appear* to cross, generating paradox. I say "appear to cross" because nothing, in fact, "crosses" awareness. Awareness only "contains"- though there is no "container" per se present, only a "contained" thing. Paradox is a definition problem, an appearance of conflict due to confusion of levels of representation. Stop defining things in a way language simply will not permit, and the problem no longer exists.

So, what have I said? Is it possible to say this? Answer: I've said nothing, and, no, it's not possible to say it. Fun. Isn't it? Man has been called "the signifying monkey" and monkeys just like to have fun. This, by the way, is not an answer to your own interesting and well stated considerations, but a fantasia, fugue and addendum. In closing I'd like to add that I believe that "consciousness" is less like a Rubrick's cube than a hot ice cube, but, in any case, metaphors do not apply to consciousness - though consciousness may well apply to metaphors. That is a mysterious region which gives birth to poetry and song. There, it seems plausible, is where we might more fruitfully direct our explorations, rather than upon the mercurial signification factors themselves. But to each his/her own, so long as we do not insist that others be baffled by and seek to slay the same Jabberwocky that comes burbling out of our personal Tulgey Wood.

Subj: Re: 8/23
Date: Aug 23 1996 8:26 PM EDT
From: (Matthew Blankman)

You wrote:
>got a lot of good response to the Big John meeting story. Will see him
>tomorrow as we bid farewell to this part of the country. Have a
feeling it's
>the last time we'll meet. Sad.
True, but at least you got to meet him, so enjoy yourselves. On a
wholly other note, I picked up the CD version of Tiger Rose this summer
and must tell you I have been enjoying it thoroughly. Previously, the
only Robert Hunter "solo" work I had heard was Jack o' Roses, which a
pal of mine picked up in England some time ago. I had always really
liked that record (esp. Reuben and Cerise), so I don't know why I
waited so long to pick up some more of your work sans-GD. Anyway, I'm
glad I wised up - I can't stop playing Yellow Moon! Its one of the
best things you've ever written or recorded, damn near perfect. If it
all comes to a screeching halt tomorrow Robert, and someday, somehow no
one can remember what or who the Grateful Dead was (or is), you'll
still have written and sung that song. Its a damn fine achievement.
By the way, have you seen or heard tape of Dylan's recent live versions
of Silvio, Friend of the Devil, Alabama Getaway or West LA Fadeaway? I
still haven't heard Bob do West LA, but as for the other three, they've
been absolutely wonderful. Friend is quiet and pretty and the others
are knock-you-on-your-ass rock'n'roll. I'll never know why Mr. Dylan
seems to have become a rejuvinated live performer in the last 18 mos.
or so, but I sure am enjoying it... and I'm sure you're beaming that
he's performing your lyrics every night.

Good luck and godspeed,

Matthew Blankman

maybe rejuvenated because he's the last of the giants, knows it, and has a lot left to establish while he's still around. And yeah, it's pretty good to know that a giant is singing some of the words written for another giant, especially when he's not around to sing them for himself anymore. Giants are like that. Big.

Subj: bluegrass boys
Date: Aug 26 1996 10:30 AM EDT
From: (Jody Lentz)

hi, hunter!

I checked out the TLN.pdf file you recommended, as well as the Bluegrass
Unlimited article that Sandy references. A few observations:

First, have you read the Bluegrass Unlimited article? If you'd like, I can scan
it and forward it to you. Although it's a cold-blooded dissing of the father of
bluegrass, I was more offended by the puerile, masturbatory writing of the
author. His use of the language is shallow and his thought process is
incomplete. Also, the column is subtitled "Notes from Wintergrass '95"
but the only note is about one of Bill's performances. Is this all that
happened at the festival? I seriously doubt it.

As far as his criticism of Monroe, it's beyond journalistic objectivity.
His comments are too personal to call his story a review. It's closer to an
opinion column, but without the insight I expect from that form. Having
been a music "journalist" and editor for 10 or 12 years, I feel I have a
taste of perspective on that.

Now, about Sandy Rothman. Most of Sandy's points are well-taken, but his
later responses to his original writing seem a little self-serving. <BTW,
I'm sending Sandy a letter, too, which will include what John Hartford told
me about James Monroe>. What Sandy's saying is important, but it seems to
me more crucial to get Sandy's music out there and remind people how
important Bill's music is to the here and now.

It's too bad Sandy got scared off by the BU editor's legal threat. He's
perfectly within the boundaries of Fair Comment to post the article with
his responses. Fair Comment has come into online debate recently because of
lawsuits by Scientologists against self-appointed cult-busters who are
posting entire texts of copyrighted Scientology teachings with a single
comment like "Now doesn't this suck?" Besides, like the man said once:
"Print what you want, just spell my name right."

Sandy's Big Picture issue of how we treat the elders in our society and how
we respect them (or don't) is a vexing problem for all of us.

Also, do we have a different standard for aging musicians? Should we? As
you might imagine, I have faced this question before as a follower of your
band. Of course Garcia, Weir, Lesh, et al. were not the same musicians or
people in 1985 that they were in 1965. No one expected that or wanted
that!! Time marches on, folks, and the only constant is change. To expect
Bill Monroe, or anyone, to be the same person or performer at age 85 <we
should live so long!> that he was at 50 or 60 is ludicrous. This is not a
"polite double-standard," it's reality! Time and gravity will always have
their way, and an open mind is a requirement when judging the work of an
elder. Another necessity is perspective: this man's body of work is
unsurpassed in this century.

But in the great fishbowl of the media, all public figures are there to be
scrutinized, dissected and often torn to ribbons by the hyenas and vultures
that populate that frenetic Uroburos of a world (more proof of your
unintentional wisdom in being "invisible"). Like Joe Campbell pointed out,
our lack of heroes is one of the great tragedies of our time, and the
myth-busting media are complicit in the destruction of our icons, including
the incomparable Bill Monroe. I had the pleasure of meeting Bill one time,
and he was kind and accomodating as a novice mandolinist (me) asked him
some pretty naive questions. He was also a bit ornery when somebody
reminded him it was time to leave his fan and go onstage.

Bill Monroe's contributions to music and culture will be remembered for
centuries, but Daniel Gore's pitiful attempts at criticism and comment will
be forgotten soon enough.

Thanx again for your cogent and sensitive writing. Keep it up! I know it's
hard when you've got long-winded correspondents like myself, but it really
is a treat to read your email, journals and longer-form stuff after surfing
the boundless wasteland of literacy and intellect known as the Internet.

total peace,

p.p.s. if you get a chance, check out my band's website:
If nothing else, you can get a picture of me to file away in your mental
RAM for when you read my email.

thanks for all that. Yes, Sandy made sure I got the article a long while ago. It would indeed be best if the original article were published in whole, so that the author was fairly represented because I don't feel the intent was mean, he just got carried away with his "angle" (the dying musician) and over stressed it to the point of insult and bad taste. It was the editor's job to reject or cause the article to be ammended.

I heartily agree with you that it's important that Sandy's music get out where it belongs, in the ears of the bluegrass public. What seems self-serving in his article, if we're talking about the same point, could also be viewed (and I do) as establishing his credentials to bitch in a big way about the slight to the man he esteems above all others. After all, it isn't every Berkeley cowboy who was tapped by Bill Monroe himself for a stint as a musician in the Bluegrass Boys. And he loves the old man so much, is so close to him, it really IS a family matter. I heard Bill singing "Happy Birthday to You" over Sandy's answering machine last Decembe - a tear jerker, that venerable, now ancient voice, yodeling "Happy Birthday, dear Sandy, Happy Birthday to You -ou!" a la Muleskinner Blues.

Subj: Just singing along
Date: Aug 26 1996 9:30 AM EDT
From: ncacihe! (Loren Roseman)

Just singing along

Howdy. I really enjoy your web page. (I have one too Keep up the good work. If you are
still having problems with your Powerbook, try upgrading to system 7.5.3. That
may help. I've heard the 5300 is a buggy little bastard. Good luck! There was a
great article in the August issue of MacUser about extensions that can be
removed. I support an office of 25 Macs. This article helped me stabilized the
environment (the computers, not the people).

A friend of mine, who worked at a local Chicago computer, store helped Jerry
with his Powerbook and broken drawing tablet when he was in Chicago in the
summer of 1994. My friend has a great picture of him and Jerry from that service
call. I've got a copy of the picture hanging in my office.

I saw you play at Biddy Mulligan's in Chicago back in 1986. You were great. Please
come back more often! I feel like singing along.

You talked about your anonymity and how much you, understandably, value it.
About 6 weeks ago, I brought a small piece of my childhood to closure. I saw
KISS at the Rosemont Horizon, Rosemont, IL. It was a great concert. There's not
a lick of musical talent in the band but they were, nonetheless, wonderful!
(Funny, I hadn't listened to a KISS album since 1982- since I started smoking
the kind and listening to the Dead. Yet I knew all of the songs and all of the
words to the songs.) They had a similar kind of anonymity prior to taking off
the makeup that you have. Before KISS went public without the makeup, no one new
who they were. They were huge rock stars that could walk down Main Street, USA
with total anonymity. Being the songsmith, you were a key part of the Dead. Yet
you can go to the mall (or German class) without a bodyguard. The best of both

I saw the Further Festival at Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI. Although it was a
great show, I could only draw three conclusions. First, I'm too damn old for general
admission lawn seats (My ass was killing me!). Second, Mickey is going to win
his second Grammy. I have turned many non-Deadheads (i.e., my parents and
brother-in-law) onto Mystery Box. It's totally brilliant- unique, well written,
well played, and well produced! (The album's slogan should be "If you hate the
Dead, buy this album!") My third conclusion is the fat lady has sung. It was no
substitute for a Dead show. I don't think it was intended to be. But many people
came there looking for their musical methadone. :'-(

Time to go back to work.

Loren Roseman
"The Internet- it's not just for pornography anymore!"

I've about worn this little bastard out and am waiting for the perfect laptop to appear. I insist on being able to change environments easily. It takes a lot of patience to be a Mac enthusiast these days, but I believe they're coming around. I just bought this machine too early, without waiting for reports. Will probably do the same thing again. Alan, the assistant Webmaster, borrowed a 5300c from Tom, the DeadNet sysop, to use in England last month. After checking it out he said "to hell with it" and bought a used 540c, the precursor to this model, because at least it's stable. So much for nerd talk.

I remember Biddy Mulligen's and remember being in good form that night. God, was that 10 years ago? Must have been. Maureen was with me, which means Kate wasn't born yet - and she was 8 last week.

I accept your report on Further at Alpine Valley as objective. There will be much resistance to overcome as people get accustomed to the fact they know to begin with. The Grateful Dead are gone and cannot be replaced. I'm not convinced that the multi-act festival format was the best way to launch the next phase. I would much rather hear Mystery Box in a good concert hall setting, with one opening act, than out in the random elements with a day full of music behind me. But I'm an old fart too.

Subj: Web weaving
Date: Aug 26 1996 4:00 PM EDT

Hey Robert,
It's odd that I'm writing this, since I have no real knowledge of
your work or interest in the Grateful Dead. I write without
hostility, though. I'm very impressed with the site and am curious
about some of your design techniques, particularly your use of a
single image (the fruit bowl) as the background for your intro
screen. Could you elaborate on how you did this? HTML and/or graphics advice appreciated.
Congratulations on some excellent web-weaving.

(name & address witheld by request)

I use Adobe PageMill (or SiteMill) to write my html for me. It allows me to see what my page looks like at all times without guessing; no annoying html data all over the place messing up the visual balance. If you use IBM, there's a new windows program out there by Microsoft that does the html for you, can't remember the name. Anyway, the program places backgrounders automatically. You can write text over backgrounders, unlike non-backgrounder jpeg and gif pictures. If you prefer to write your own html, just look up the code for backgrounders, drop your picture in an image file, and call up the file name with html code on your html page.

I spend a lot of time photographing with a digital camera, with backgrounder material in mind, and then photoshopping my better efforts.. I use a different one every edition lately. I've developed an eye for the kind of photo that will be both effective and rapid in loading time. Only experiment will show you this. jpeg versions are generally a must, delivering the most color at the lowest number of kilobytes.. I crop, remove unused color and often change the brightness and contrast to make them load quicker. Anything more than 26k loads too slow for me. I hate to have the text load and the image appear a minute later, and refuse to make readers waste time waiting while my "lovely photographs" eat up their expensive online time.

The basic fact of the matter is that a good and original looking page is an art form that expresses the taste and design sense of the creator. My pages are technically quite simple. I depend on the power of the image itself to convey the impression I want.

Date: Aug 29 1996 2:23 AM EDT
From: (Bob Hendricks)

you wrote:
> Bob,
> You say I'm poking a stick at a beast - I'm also poking a stick at a mirror.
> I'm not really much afraid of either. Should I be? If you're talking lunatic
> fringe, that's something beyond my control and comes with the territory.
> rh

No, not lunatic fringe (at least I hope not). The beast I reference is
neither malevolent nor benevolent. Hell, you know more about the beast
than I do. What do I mean? Man, I wish I had your way with words. The
beast wants to communicate. Is communicating. Through you. Through the
web site. Especially through the web site. Democracy is a beast. Consider
the 18th century. The truth is a beast. Consider Galileo. Fascism is a
beast. Consider Hitler. 20th century western culture is a beast.
Consider clear cutting. Consider strip malls. Consider my '87 Toyota.

What I mean is that what you (we) are doing here is not trivial. It is
LARGE. It is a beast. Indifferent, like a hurricane. That's what I mean.
Like a fucking volcano.

I admire and respect your courage. You seem to be a catalyst (poking).

Maybe you are The Man now. That should scare you. It would scare me.

The mountain is a resting beast. Some guy pokes. It stirs, quivers.
Not born, but materialized, it winks in. It awakes, rises, and SHAKES!
Hungry now. A million eyes at once. Synapses lashed to silicon. A
flash of recognition. Can't think about winking out. the beats begin.
the howl is raised.



Ah! I see what you were driving at. Nice piece of writing. Guess if I were to look at it that way I'd be scared stiff. Not much danger of me becoming "The Man." The JG faithful admit of no interlopers, which I figure is one of the reasons for the instinctive attacks on Weir. And the power of the webpage is pretty miniscule. Despite all the hype, there ain't that many chickens in the henhouse. The audience is moving over to Phish concerts (150,000 at one of their shows last week - and welcome to it!) If I've had half that number of webpage hits since I began this Archive, I'd be mightily surprised.

Thing to remember, the Grateful Dead fans were a music audience, not a literature club. No web page is going to make a dent in that. No great beast is quakin' & wakin' here. Just a middle aged man, with absolutely no desire for rock stardom or undue public attention, neating the place up with a whisk broom and lining the shelves with fresh newspaper. Hate to leave a dirty place behind.

As for courage, granted there's a bit of audacity in publishing my journal and speaking out on a few issues possibly best ignored, but I don't see how bravery enters into it. As I've pointed out since the beginning of this venture, there's self-interest involved. I'd like to tip my hat and say "how do you do" before the whole shooting match falls apart - just to let you know I was here too. Details like me and my life's work tend to get lost in the public fascination with dirt on Garcia's personal life. I mean, can you see the headlines" "Writer works 30 years - Publishes All On Internet!!!" " 'Eyestrain,' Complains Pop Poet." Nor does it take courage to level my guns at a few institutions that have raised my ire over the years. They've done what harm they can manage over the years, don't give two dogpiles and a damn if they did, and I'm much too small a target to be shot back at.

But thanks for viewing me in such grandiose terms. It fluffs my ego a little, which is more than some of my hard working cohorts receive.

[Archives] [Index] [Postoffice]