[Archive] [Indexl

Mailbag 9.15.1996

Subj: The Archive, of course!
Date: Sep 4 1996 1:20 AM EDT
From: (Andrew Joseph Duttlinger)


I know that there are lots of voices clamoring for your attention, so I'll
try to be quick and quiet with my own. Thanks for all your efforts with
the archive. It's more than a little bit striking to find such a human
voice amongst all the noise on the internet, even more so in that it is
one that I've heard so many times through the music of the Grateful Dead.

I really enjoy reading your ever-evolving journal. I suppose this note
is, in some way, an effort to expiate the somewhat voyeuristic twinge I
feel from having been made party to that small part of your life while
offering nothing in return.

I don't have any deft turns of phrase or startling insights to convey, but
I do want to offer you my gratitude. You've inspired me to begin keeping
my own journal, and someday I hope to be able to look back on it and see
where I've been and how it got me wherever it is that I end up. Thanks
for helping me start a map of the journey.

Keep up the good work with the archive. It means something to lots of us.



it hadn't occurred to me that I was turning my readers into a bunch of voyeurs, nor myself into an exhibitionist. Better to think of it all as just a long, detailed letter to a friend. That's what I do. In a way, it's what I've always done. I'm just expressing myself a bit more clearly these days.

Subj: journal
Date: Sep 4 1996 9:08 PM EDT
From: (Tyler Hart)

>Wouldn't that be a strange trip
>to end all strange trips if this adventure in communication were
>reasonably balanced people will realize they have no further
>place in it.

Well, there are an awful lot of Discordians, either by name or nature,
amongst the deadhead crowd; and we have a reputation for being rather harsh
on false prophets. Anyone who tries to make a deity out of your friend will
have to put up with a very large amount of extremely brutal abuse, I can
assure you. It's not too often we get such a wonderfully valid target to
vent our general frustrations on. Seems to me like most of the Valid Life
Lessons (tm) to be learned from the man's life (one way, not the only, of
looking at it) lose their punch if you make him out to be some kinda chrome
plated git-tar slingin redemption machine.

A long thread on the Together list came more or less to the conclusion that
one of the most powerful things about the Dead & Jerry in particular came
from knowing that these were reg'lar type fucked up humans channeling all
that super heavy transforming magic. "If you can do it then so can I", yes?
Very encouraging, especially as I never knew any perfect folks & so if my
friends and I are ever gonna accomplish much it's nice to see real work can
be done without having to be from planet Krypton or the like.

>If I don't deconstruct with love,
>someone else will be happy to do it with hate.

Well, they're going to anyway. Just do it better, and be ready to do much
heavy battle if you wish to remain engaged. It's only a matter of time
before the heavy guns acquire their latest target, most likely with nothing
but the best of intentions as usual. Yes, the loving rebuttal...beat them
to the punch...quite beautiful, really. Nice to see you a step ahead, not
that that's so unusual or anything.

Liked your little What Is Deconstruction Anyway bit. So much so I really
have nothing more to add...oh, no, of course I do. How could I resist? Just
this: the black-hat episodes of deconstruction are not just from
overenthusiatic academics who get whirled down the into navel-gazing
infinite regress. They usually shoot themselves in the foot, attempting to
argue every side against the middle. The meanies are the cynical and/or
nihilistic souls who see a nifty tool for pulling everyone else down into
their individual abysses. "I can't feel happiness, so it must be an
illusion when other people experience it, and I have the tools to prove

And yes, the digital life and deconstruction go hand in hand. Something to
do with realities-per-minute, I think.

> Perhaps it was the dance of death going on, not entirely unbeknownst,
>from the stage that gave the whole show that "extra something."

Hrmf. I thought that was what gave it the manic edge. Frankly, it was real
obvious that he was gonna be gone before too long, which made a lot of
folks including myself desperate to catch every drop possible before the
well ran dry. Gave it that berserk millenial flavor, which makes any action
excusable. From inside the mindset, of course, not in hindsight.

>Systems are subject to entropy and entropy is the
>enemy: a mere shuttling between order and disorder.

This was supposed to invite comment, you said. Er, well, you're not far
from a tautology here, and I agree with the basic notion as I understand
it, life vs. entropy and all fact I've been known to blather on
about it at length, usually in the context of complexity theory. Depends on
what you mean by "system"...complex, dynamic systems that exhibit emergent
order seem to be the mechanism by which entropy is defeated. The entropy is
still there at the edges, but the condensing structure hopefully wins the
race, moment to moment. If you stop pushing energy into the system- either
to admire its beauty or gaze in horror at the encroaching entropy- you run
the risk of the dissipation catching up with you. So keep moving.

As an odd little girl once told Mr. Kesey: entropy is only a problem in a
closed system. Where's the roof on this universe? That silly gnab gib thing
people worry about? Well, there's a side door, I think. I hope.

>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

Alexandria (Tyler Hart, Apprentice Comparative Mystical Religion Nut, at
your service)

> Philip K. Dick had a keen appreciation of Gnosticism and wrote
>many of his novels along those themes.

You've pointed a guy who's into the Gnostics- and therefore may well be
having gnostic experiences- towards Phil Dick? Heh. Heh. Well, that should
make things interesting...still got a touch of prankster there, eh?

>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.

I'm not- yet- and I agree with you. In fact I'm a stone boogie chile and
dug like crazy gettin' down in the open fields, with room to dance and
freak freely; but give me my next Box in a really tight hall, yeah sure an
opener, then at least and hour and a half or 2 hours of mystery. Some one
tell him to play the beam more! I know, I know, it's like herding cats, but
I have to vent somewhere.
Anyway, he's sold me & mine the box, now we'll go wherever he opens it, so
why not the really nice halls?

I liked this statement so much I quoted it to Alan today: "The entropy is
still there at the edges, but the condensing structure hopefully wins the
race, moment to moment. If you stop pushing energy into the system- either
to admire its beauty or gaze in horror at the encroaching entropy- you run
the risk of the dissipation catching up with you. So keep moving."

You've said in a coconut shell the reason I've had problems, since the
beginning, with the historicization of the Grateful Dead. I refused to stop
and look at it in some kind of premature historic context out of a very real
fear it would begin crystalizing too soon. Whatever it was, it was always
necessary to work full time making it something else - until that simply
became impossible due to the immense gravity absolutely forcing positive
entropy on the system. I once wrote a long trilogy called "Bride of Entropy"
of which "An American Adventure" is the opening segment. Entropy is one of my
major underlying metaphors, an awareness of which conditions much of my work,
since the very beginning. I've accepted the inevitable since I started
writing for the band - there was a clear arc of vision from point A right to
the end, and I recorded the process along with suitable (and useless)
warnings all along. The resultant work appears prescient, I'm aware of that,
but, let me hasten to say: any fool could plainly see . . .

I think the only way of forestalling entropy is to work like a sonofabitch
when caught in a heavy gravity field. Even resting is working, if it's done
in the service of gathering energy to charge foreward without burning out
and, thus, succumbing to entropy through the apathy of weakness.

Here is the preface to "Bride of Entropy" lifted right out of the dictionary,
just so everybody knows what we're discussing here when I jam this in the

a measure of the unavailable energy
in a closed thermodynamic system
so related to the state of the system
that a change in the measure varies
with change in the ratio of
the increment of heat taken in
to the absolute temperature
at which it is absorbed.

a measure of the disorder of
a closed thermodynamic system
in terms of a constant multiple
of the natural logarithm of
the probability of the occurrence
of a particular molecular
arrangement of the system
that by suitable choice of a constant
reduces to the measure
of unavailable energy.

a measure of the amount
of information in a message
that is based on the logarithm of
the number of possible
equivalent messages.

the degradation of the matter
and the energy in the universe
to an ultimate state of inert uniformity.

the steady degradation
or disorganization of
a system or society.

(Webster's 9th New Collegiate. Dict.)


Subj: No Subject
Date: Sep 4 1996 11:11 AM EDT
From: (Dave Barton)

Dear RH-

I have been gradually catching up on archive and mailbag postings over the
last month or so. Had been peripherally aware of your efforts before that,
but was inspired to look more closely after a fine local radio station (the
best and most non- commercial commercial station I've ever heard) read your
letter on the anniversary of JG's death. It was enjoyable to hear some
genuine thoughts from someone close to the man, without the usual media
focus on their view of the Grateful Dead (hippies, drugs, 60s anachronism,
trippers following Jerry the guru, etc.). Most media accounts over the
years have made little, if any mention of the fact that this was a musical
group, and the thing that brought all these people together was an
appreciation for the music. Long live alternative media and the means for
free expression!

It's been interesting to read the journals in order in a compressed time,
rather than as they were written. They provide insight into not only your
thoughts about the subject of the day as stated or implied, but to the ups
and downs and rythyms of life that effect us all. You're kind to share your
day to day existence with us in this relatively unfiltered format.

It's also good to read about how people in the Dead community are coping
with the loss of one of their anchors. Most people seem to be doing O.K. I
take refuge in a few different ways. First, I recognize that in the realm
of musical performance, Jerry and the Grateful Dead provided one of the
longest lived and most diverse collections of works in history (thanks in no
small part to lyrical contributions) and that their work is better
documented than any musical endeavor ever. I know that I can spend the rest
of my life discovering terrific music for the first time from my favorite
band. Also, I will continue to enjoy the friends I've made in our common
pursuit of musical fulfillment. Second, I try to live by a philosophy that
was expressed by Jerry "The Bama" Washington, a popular public radio blues
DJ in Washington DC for many years. Mr. Washington was nearly blind and in
a wheelchair for the last years of his life, but his radio show brilliantly
combined the blues with optimism, humor, double entendre, and spirit. He
passed away about a year and a half ago, and you could hear his decline over
the last couple of years, similar to the way we witnessed JG's in his last
years. The Bama counseled that "It's not a sin to fall, but it's more of
one to wallow". It sounds to some like oversimplification, but it meant a
lot coming from him. Third, the music scene in this country and others is
terrific rght now. We've gotten over the heavy metal and rap obsession of
the late '80s (valid art forms, but not my favorites) and there's so much
good music to checkout that you can't keep up with it all. Most Deadheads
are good about this, but I remind everyone to find and support good radio
stations, music stores, and local musicians and their venues. Keep an open
musical mind, and enjoy.

To you, RH, I always enjoyed hearing you perform your songs in their simpler
musical contexts. I had hoped for years that the Dead would get around to
redoing "Terrapin" with all the parts and sans some of the studio send up.
It's terrific on "Jack O' Roses". It was nice to read in your letter to JG
that he at least considered it. It's interesting to know of his concern
that he wouldn't have time to do it justice. Ah, what might have been. (not
wallowing, just musing). I'd love to get a CD of Jack O' Roses for the
permanent collection, but realize that's probably not in the cards. We do
have an old vinyl copy in the family, at my brother's.

Best to you and yours. Keep up the good work. It is relevant and useful,
in my humble opinion. It's certainly not as if your tree is falling and no
one's hearing it.

yes, our tree is falling, isn't it? That's one of the predictible changes. Many good people out there who wish us well, but they don't constitute a viable support system. If it might be, I only hope we fall with grace and dignity and don't piddle out trying to cop every last penny folks are willing to toss into our cigar box.

One problem with being on the line for thirty years is that our crew has aged along with the rest of us, and for many of them being a part of the Grateful Dead is all they really know how to do. Of course, the problem of redundancy is not unique to this group of people. The job market is not exactly crying out for women in their fifties with secretarial and accounting skills or roadies of similar age. For them, the musical legacy we have left behind is small comfort. But it means a lot to me and I thank you for the handsomely stated thoughts.

September 04, 1996 8:27 AM

Spent some time out (up) in Steamboat Springs, Colorado this weekend; saw
The Grisman Quintet perform in front of about 75 people on the town lawn;
good stuff.

Even better.....moseyed into an old record store where lo and behold, an
8x10 of a 25 year- old Robert Hunter hung behind the counter. The twenty (or
so) year old clerk caught me checking it out, and said, "Man the Dead never
were the same after pigpen died, eh"? I said nope, still waiting for the
caffeine to kick in.

It took me another minute or so to understand that this fellow thought you
wuz Pig, and Pig wuz you.

I asked him if he had ever heard of Robert Hunter, and he said, "Yeh, didn't
he write Dark Star"?

I was going to tell him no, actually it wrote him, but it *was* only 10am or
so, so I gave him your url, smiled and left.


Subj: 9/5 Journal
Date: Sep 8 1996 9:30 PM EDT
From: (John Kiely)

Hello Robert,
Just read your 9/5 journal. You don't need to do anything with our belief
and loyalty. It's a trip to ride with this along with you. It doesn't matter
to me where it or you are going. This is simply a nice place to plug in, and
I appreciate your providing us with an open window to your mind. This is
interesting and special, I leave it at that.

"Something new is waiting to be born."

I caught my 2 year old dancing around his room with a toy microphone singing
the chorus to Uncle John's Band this afternoon. He got most of the words
right too.

Nice to hear from you.

John Kiely

nice to hear from you again. You're right - I do take too much responsibility on myself. Would definitely like to stop short of megalomania. I think I do understand that communication is enough and that's when the journal gets lighter and brighter. One gets in odd habits when having a voice such as the Grateful Dead to speak through. I had to develop a strong self-busting mechanism. I need to believe my own words "it all works out if you leave it alone." But sometimes I can't help tinkering. Regards to your son Sean.

Subj: Computer Virus Alert
Date: Sep 4 1996 11:49 AM EDT
From: (Leda Barasch)

Hey rh,

Welcome home! I've never written to you before and when I really get
around to it, I'm sure I'll have plenty to say, however, I received e-mail
from a friend today who warned me of some nasty computer virus and I
thought I'd forward the message. I know you read lots of mail from lots of
people you don't really *know* so please be on the look out! I've heard
from others that this virus has been around for a few so perhaps it's old
news to you, but the friend that passed the message on to me is very
knowledgeable about computers and if she's sending a warning today, this
thing must've made a comeback.

BTW, I've been reading your archives on and want to take a moment
to thank you for opening up and sharing yourself with us this way. Yours
is one of the few sites where I could spend days reading all there is to
read and still want to come back for more. I've also reconnected with an
old friend of mine via his letter to you in the Mailbag. Did anyone ever
tell you you have a knack for articulating what many of us feel in our
hearts, but can't quite put a cognitive finger on? I'm sure someone has.
Please allow me to be the umpteenth person to praise your spirit.

Best, Leda Barasch

you know what I liked about England? You know how much something costs. If it says 5£ , it costs 5£, not 5£ and 28 pence. I wonderif that unknown amount of tax that'll be required on each expenditure hasn't done some peculiar little twist to the American character . . .
Alan Trist asked me today "Don't you find your answers to all that email get repetitive?" I said, "No. Never."

By the way, the "Good Times" computer virus is a famous old hoax. Most of them are. The real virus is those emails. I've seen the Good Times letter several times. There was a new actual virus out a couple of weeks ago, I think it was called Forth, but it was apparently pretty lame and only affected windows computers of a certain kind, not very badly, and then destroyed itself so it couldn't replicate. Anyway, back up your data on a cheap removable hard disk for a dozen good reasons, virus being the least of them.

Glad you met an old friend via the mailbag. Hope you meet some new ones too. If you like someone's style, remember everyone likes something in their mailbox. I originally hoped we might get some sort of online community happening via the mailbag, but so far I haven't heard any report of that occurring. Pipedreams. Thanks for the good words on the Archive.


Forwarded message:

>Date: 04 Sep 1996 08:20:13 -0500
>(Return requested),
>Subject: Computer Virus Alert
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>I got this in my e-mail today, about an especially nasty computer virus.
> >There is a computer virus that is being sent across the Internet. If you
> >>>>receive an email message with the subject line "Good Times", DO = NOT
> >read
> >>>>the message, DELETE it immediately. Please read the messages below.
> Some
> >>>>miscreant is sending email under the title "Good Times" nationwide, if
> >you
> >>>>get anything like this, DON'T DOWN LOAD THE FILE! It has a virus that
> >>>>rewrites your hard drive, obliterating anything on >it.
> >>>> Please be careful and forward this mail to anyone you care about.
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>>
> >>>> The FCC released a warning last Wednesday concerning a matter of
> major
> >>>>importance to any regular user of the Internet. Apparently a new
> >computer
> >>>>virus has been engineered by a user of AMERICA ON LINE that is
> >>>>unparalleled in its destructive capability. Other more well-known
> viruses
> >>>>such as "Stoned", "Airwolf" and "Michaelangelo" pale in comparison to
> the
> >>>>prospects of this newest creation by a warped mentality. What makes
> >>>>virus so terrifying, said the FCC, is the fact that no program needs to
> >be
> >>>>exchanged for a new computer to be infected. It can be spread through
> the
> >>>>existing email systems of the Internet.
> >>>>
> >>>>Once a Computer is infected, one of several things can happen. If the
> >>>>computer contains a hard drive, that will most likely be destroyed.
> >>>>the program is not stopped, the computer's processor will be placed in
> >an
> >>>>nth-complexity infinite binary loop -which can severely damage the
> >>>>processor if left running that way too long.
> >>>>
> >>>>Unfortunately, most novice computer users will not realize what is
> >>>>happening until it is far too late. Luckily, there is one sure means of
> >>>>detecting what is now known as the "Good Times" virus. It always
> >to
> >>>>new computers the same way in a text email message with the subject
> >>>>reading "Good Times". Avoiding infection is easy once the file has been
> >>>>received simply by NOT READING IT! The act of loading the file into
> >>>>mail server's ASCII buffer causes the "Good Times" mainline program to
> >>>>initialize and execute. The program is highly intelligent- it will
> >>>>copies of itself to everyone whose email address is contained in a
> >>>>receive-mail file or a sent-mail file, if it can find one. It will then
> >>>>proceed to trash the computer it is running on. The bottom line is: -
> if
> >>>>you receive a file with the subject line "Good Times", delete it
> >>>>immediately! Do not read it" Rest assured that whoever's name was on
> the
> >>>>"From" line was surely struck by the virus. Warn your friends and
> local
> >>>>system users of this newest threat to the Internet could save them a
> >of
> >>>>time and money.
> >>>>
> >>>> Could you pass this along to your global mailing list as well?

Subj: Just some ramblings
Date: Sep 4 1996 3:42 PM EDT
From: (John Schaible)

Hello Robert,

Glad to have you back home again, although, in cyberspace, I guess
anywhere with a connection could be your home as far as I know. Hope
your vacation was what you intended it to be. I must say I enjoyed the
pictures you posted almost as much as the journals - gave the journals
just that little bit of added color that plain 'ole text needs

Well, I have recently read the interview that you, Mickey, Phil, and Bob
gave to Musician magazine, and, as usual, I found all of your comments
insightful. However, I have to tell you that I disagree with you on one
point you made. I will paraphrase you because I do not have the article
here in front of me to look at, but you said something to the effect
that the fans are mourning the passing of the Grateful Dead as they knew
it. You then go on to say that the real thing that happened was not the
music, but the community. This is where I have to take exception with
you. I really believe it was the music that happened. The community
was a really nice bi-product, but not the central hub of it all.
Obviously, the Grateful Dead were many things to many people, and who am
I to go spouting off, half cocked and half informed. However, if Jerry
and Bob and Phil and Mickey and Bill and Pig all got onstage and just
sat there and talked about the universe, I don't think much would have
happened. I could be wrong here, but, put some instruments in those
guys' hands, and SOMETHING (whatever it was) certainly did happen. It
goes back to what Mickey is always talking about - the magic in music.
Music is what drew me to the Dead, not the community, although I found
comfort and friendship and a home there later on. It is a wonderful
thing that the community is surviving without the music, but, do I dare
say it yet again, it just ain't the same. I really think it's about
high time that the music is given it's due (outside of the Dead
community). You and the boys made some great music, lasting music. It
wasn't a fad or some hippie pipe dream. As you said yourself, you guys
created a genuine piece of Americana, no small feat I might add. The
music stands on it's own, and should be judged on it's own with no extra
Dead culture/community baggage attached. Ok, I'll step off of my soap
box now.

Speaking of the music. I know that Phil is particularly picky when it
comes to the music, and I guess that's a good thing, but I was a little
let down when Phil remarked that he hadn't found anything "good" yet
from the most recent shows. Please tell Phil that there were some great
moments in '95 - not as many as we all would have liked, but they are
out there. And if he thinks that all of the '95 shows were bad, please
refer him to this quote from your friend JG - "When a Grateful Dead show
is horrible, it's interesting".

All of this talk of the music leads me to a question. I read in the
journal that you did not see the Dead play much in the last decade.
Well then, did/do you listen to any tapes of shows. Do you ever go home
and think to yourself, "gee, I'd really like to hear a killer
Scarlet/Fire"? If not, I wonder what your perception of the bands'
evolution in sound and style over the years (and how this affected your
songs) would be like, or, for that matter, if you even care. If you
don't really listen to the band, if for no other reason than pure
curiosity, I would really like to direct you to 3/21/94. This show
contains mabye the best Stella Blue that they ever played.

Well, enough of the Dead related stuff. You are kind of related to
them, and your ear is easiest to bend, so I send these ramblings to you
periodically. I hope I am not abusing this privelege. Before I say
good bye, I wanted to tell you that I have just begun reading The
Giant's Harp. I am only two chapters in, so I will save my thoughts for
another time. I will tell you that I am enjoying reading it. If it's
anywhere near as enjoyable writing it as it is reading it, then I think
you're on the right track.

Best regards,
John Schaible


a thousand monks, a thousand religions - the Grateful Dead was not mine. My involvement was too deeply personal. Because of one thing or another, what brought pleasure to others might very well bring me other sensations, particularly in later years when I knew things that have only lately become public knowledge. Remember that the lows, as well as the highs, of much of my life were involved in the development of many of those songs. Bits of my heart. However, I could appreciate the community who listened to it with more innocent ears than mine. They kept me attentive to my part of the bargain. I'd like to have had a chance to hear the Dead as others heard it, with neiter creative nor interpersonal involvement, so I could judge objectively. I might have loved them, I might not. I suspect the former, but there's really no way to say.


ps: I haven't seen the Musician article myself. Hope I didn't say anything so blatant, or that the context justified it, or editing created it, because it's certainly not my opinion that the music wasn't very important indeed.

Subj: Now i understand.
Date: Sep 4 1996 1:23 PM EDT
From: (Tim Donohoe)

After a summer of computer abstinence, I return to your mailbag and find
out that you actually wrote the Bible, Jesus (I mean gee) how'd you keep
*that* a secret for so long?


by blackmail, extortion and brute force.


ps: get a King James Bible. Go to Psalm 46. Read word number 46. Then start at the end and count 46 words back (not counting the last word "Selah" which is a formal ending word akin to "Amen."

Date: Sep 3 1996 1:40 PM EDT
From: (R. Zehring)

On Fri, 30 Aug 1996 you wrote:

> John,
> I read that book. I think Mickey laid it on me a couple of years ago. Heavy.
> The stuff about sleeping in a totally dark, utterly quiet room - I dunno -
> nice work if you can get it!

Thanks for your response, you know books are books. The philosphy tomes
can either sink you to the bottom or lift you for a couple of days. The
hard part is taking anything real from them. I guess that depends on the
intent with which the words were laid down. I've always enjoyed your flair
with the language. I really like "Dry Dusty Road" and "Rueben & Cherise".
Actually there are numerous works of yours that are required listening
several times a year. I prefer your solo renditions of the songs
to the GD or Garcia.
I had read a couple years back that a lot your songs with Garcia were
loosely based on the idea of a recurring character. I think it was
mentioned that the idea of a movie or some other consolidation of that
character was in the works. It sounded rather compelling. That character
seemed to be almost a warts and all american archetype. An update of the
american folk hero. Was that interview speak or was that a conscious
direction in your songs? Just a wonderin'!
The idea of fielding the scattered remains of the GD fan base and
purging their emotions is truly a heroic task. Life is better when one
follows their instincts despite the odds and the first glance. Like the
wise man said,"You get more stinkin' from thinkin' than you do from
drinkin'!" I believe I'll leave the e-mailing to those more eloquent than
me. I just wanted to pass on my deepest respect for you and the work
you've done and thanks a thousand-times over.

Take care,



I think it's good that you make a distinction between the rambling of interviewspeak
and long term purposeful direction. I'd have to say that the realization that there was
something like a central character came after, rather than before, the fact.

Subj: Traveling & 'Unwine'
Date: Sep 4 1996 7:12 AM EDT
From: (Magistro, John)


Welcome Back. How goes? Hope your time over seas was both relaxing and
enjoyable. I have a couple questions for ya. First, how does one get the
first 7 chapters of Giant's Harp in individual .pdf format, is there a
place, is their a person?
Second, what's the deal with the 'Steal Your Face' logo on the
non-alcoholic wine? I mean, WTF! Man it sure was nice of 'them' to wait
a year after Jerry's passing before the mass marketing began.
Of course I have been known to be a bit cynical at times so maybe it's
just that it caught me off guard. But I had just read your piece
"An American Adventure" and there was this commercialization
of something that was by most standards a commercial flop-
with the exception of the tours of course.
Any how, I was hoping to get some input from you about this brewery
using 'Dead' artwork to sell beverages. In your opinion, good, bad or


hope the jet lag is short lived.


had heard something about the wine and forgotten it. I guess my question would have to be "Is the wine any good?" As for merchandising, face it: after you sell everything else in the attic, you sell the spiders. Do I like it? I think I'll just cultivate a growing indifference to anything that has to do with selling out the peripherals or I'll spend a lot of time crying in my wine.

Date: Sep 5 1996 5:19 AM EDT


I suppose you're correct. Although the band is no longer, the enterprise
feels it must continue and find some means by which to generate income.
The pursuit of capital is, after all, the main quest of a capitalist
society. Which is fine so-long-as you don't rip no one off in the


ps. I apologize to you and yours if it's not a good topic, and hope it
did not bring you down after what seems to have been great trip.

Don't worry about it. I've spent some time reconsidering my answer to your letter. I read in a newspaper article that the contract for the wine was signed by the band, including Jerry. Since they still had a tour ahead of them and every prospect of good income, the motive is unclear to me. Well, perhaps not entirely. This is a matter of public record and I don't want to give a false impression, however comforting, that this dealing of the logo to a corporation was a desperation move brought on by the present state of the enterprise.

As you may notice, I don't view myself as an apologist for the Grateful Dead. This does not mean I'm letting the side down. Letting the side down, to me, would mean trying to throw up a smokescreen over things at this late date and trying to practice deceptive or evasive damage control. Things happened, may continue to happen, which will chip away at the "logo," so that it comes to represent less the freewheeling spirit of the Grateful Dead and its supporters than an emblem of financial capitulation. I'd personally like to hamstring this potential. As a poet, I know the power of symbols. I know that the swastika was once the Hopi Indian symbol of good luck. If our logo is becoming somewhat tarnished through ill advised actions, I can only hope that it not be eventually blackened.

You will see much to dismay you in these late days. Balance it with what we all have just cause to be proud of. If the balance fails to convince, don't lose your faith. Just take it elsewhere.


ps: I still hope that the wine is good. That onus must be on the vintners. The idea that the symbol that stands for, among other things, my own life's work, should be afixed to bottles of poor wine would be particularly galling.

Subj: A question...of interest
Date: Sep 5 1996 1:20 AM EDT
From: (Christopher Neylan)

Robert Hunter,
Firstly I shall say thankyou, for your words and thoughts. I have
enjoyed you Web page each week. I was reading your journal from 8/28/96,
and I came across this you wrote....

>>OK - went out for a short stroll, got out my camera, snapped a bunch of
pictures, noted a lot of people in worse shape than I am, and feel
relatively better. I think it's the thought that my eyes don't want to
accomodate all the writing I want to be doing that started this off. But
hell, James Joyce had to write on a blackboard in big letters with chalk
and have a secretary transcribe it! I should complain? But it got me to
thinking how much my eyes mean to me. They let me see the faces of the
people I love and allow me to consider the words I write.<<

It reminded me of a seminar I had at a camp I attended a few years ago. We
had this seminar of questions, basically several mini-discussions. One of
the questions was if you had to lose either your sight or hearing which
would you choose? As a musician myself I found this hard, because it's
hard to imagine living without either one. Feel free not to answer as it
is kind of a strange thing to think about, it's just that reading your page
really took me back to that time in my life. So thanks for jogging my

Well, see ya round.
Christopher Neylan

loss of hearing would at least have some positive features, such as not being awakened at 6am by the garbage truck. But I fear if I could not see, I couldn't write. I've tried using a tape recorder, but it just doesn't work for me. And if I couldn't write, I couldn't live. So the question is answered for me.

By the way, the migraine went away and didn't return.

Date: Sep 5 1996 9:52 PM EDT
From: (deadhead)

I am one of those who has been reading the journals and have finally decided
to get my butt in gear and fill a little place in your mailbox.

I appreciate what you are doing with the web site and the whole
deconstruction thing. After Jerry died, I couldn't get enough of the news
reports and articles, pictures attitudes and other "stuff". I was looking
for something, I'm still not sure what it was or is. The other day I was
driving along and listening to a copy of a tape of my first show from Lake
Placid in 1983. Listening to the awesome Sugaree, I felt the hair on my
neck stand on end and could picture the show and remembered the people
around me and the sheer bliss of the moment.

At the Further Fest show I attended this summer, I ran into all sorts of
people from all parts of my life that I only used to run into at shows. I
had that same feeling again. There is nothing like a Dead (now Deadhead)
show. People still ask me, upon finding out that I'm a Deadhead, what it
was that I saw in a band that seemed to play so much music that to them "all
sounds alike"? I always tell them that the difference is in the details.
Its the special version of Sugaree, the Shakedown from Syracuse, the way
Jerry's voice sounds in certain sad songs and the way the lights looked
during that one version of Playin that I will never forget.

Its the people that I met and became friends with because of the shows. Its
the people that I could always count on seeing only at shows so there was
never a reason to get an up to date address or phone number. (I actually
borrowed that thought from something I just read.) Its the people that I
have worked with and around for years who expressed their sadness at
something they couldn't understand but knew was a big part of my life.

I seem to be rambling pointlessly here when all I really wanted to do ws
express was my gratitude for your efforts and consideration.




ramble away. That's what the mailbox is for. That's what the music's for. It might even be what life is for, for all I know. I'm glad you enjoy the journals. It's kind of a public service to show appreciation for all the devotion directed toward us over the years. Seems like people should get a chance to see what happens after the flood. That's part of the story too. Besides I like to ramble.

Date: Sep 5 1996 6:16 PM EDT
From: (Long Island Soundkeeper)

Hey there--wondering when you might be posting more of the Giants Harp, or
if more even exists at this point. I know you've taken on an enormous
endeavor with your archives (or maybe I should say you've turned it into an
enormous endeavor, for which I am very grateful). I just wanted to let you
know I got very deep into the story, and am now anxiously awaiting further
chapters--no pressure--just encouragement. Boy I'll bet you're just about
drowning in encouragement at this point. The type of communication you've
achieved through your page is really wonderful though--its just about as
close to pure communication through words as I've experienced. Reading your
journals, and responses is like one of those conversations that happens at
times and in places, and in numerous conditions just come together, so you're
really communicating, and its exciting--Your journal preserves that purity.
Its funny, reading over my own journal, I feel the same kind of
understanding and recognition of the thoughts and experiences on the pages,
of course, those are my own, but they were written over the years in
different realities at different times. I've never had the chance to read
someone elses journal though--thanks--love--anne


Got Chapter 17 of Giant's Harp done while in London, but want to hold it until I finish Chapter 18., which presents some problems. Both are short and consecutive, so I thought I'd publish them together. I might put them up before the new edition target date of the 15th, if I get #18 done earlier. Only three more chapters to go after that. Much as I love it, it'll be a relief finishing. It takes a good chunk of my time which will then be free to devote to other aspects of the page. In fact, why don't I wrap this letter up, with thanks, and get to work . . .


ps - next morning: got halfway through #18 last night after solving a problem with it which had been hanging me up - realized I couldn't get away with narrative in the situation and had to resort to detailed dialogue. In narrative, a writer tells the reader what to think about things - in dialogue, allows the reader to overhear and make up her own mind. Thanks for turning my attention to the Harp or I would have spent the evening answering mail and rambling in the journal.

Date: Sep 7 1996 12:58 PM EDT
Subj: Back Home

Howdy Hunter

I trust you are safely ensconsed in the lair of the beast? I LOVED the picture of the yellow sky over London. In fact, the digital camera and your descriptions of your journey made me feel, at times, that I had made the trip. Thanks! There are two questions on my mind. The first about "Built To Last". My wife and I have been listening to it lately. I always thought it was a great song - searing lyrics driving home an eternal question and describing the ebb and flow of life and the things one must respond to when laid at one's feet. I think (not being a Deadbase freak) I may have seen the last public perfomance of it by The Grateful Dead at Albany's Knickerbocker in Spring 1990 (opened the second set, I believe). The question, of course, is why did Jerry stop doing it? Certainly several months later when Brent died a bunch of tunes died as well, but they were Brent's and JPB's and this was yours and Jerry's. Besides, the last sounding occurred months before - so why? Some suggested that since the record had not done well, Jerry was pissed. That seemed utterly ridiculous to me considering the previous 25 odd years of record making and music playing. It seemed much more likely that Jerry was troubled by the arrangement. I guess since I liked it so much, I couldn't really believe that either. Can you shed light? Next question: Perhaps it is your libertarian streak or maybe because he was such an important figure in my own life that I am overlaying some of his words and themes on yours, but there are times in both your fiction and non-fiction that I detect a flavor of Robert A. Heinlein. The one time when we met and spoke briefly, it was of literature, but it was mainly of Proust and Thomas Mann - obviously a different matrix than Heinlein's brand of speculative fiction (I mean here the stuff he wrote before he got stuck in his own musings and grumbles toward the end of his life). Any truth here or am I operating out of my own head?
Thanks for the webpage and keeping us in touch with headquarters.

tunes dropped out of repertoire for years at a time, replaced by others, for no other reason than to have a different show. If a complex tune dropped out, it would need to be rehearsed to be brought back in, and there are so many songs some of them just went bye-bye. As I stopped going to shows, becoming less interested in pushing my material on an increasingly apathetic collaborator, a lot of my songs were replaced in the repertoire with cover tunes, which the audience found quite acceptable. I was never clear on what the message was, other than that my less than subserviant stance, born of frustration, was unacceptable and I was being deleted insofar as that was possible to do, considering the backbone of the repertoire. It wasn't a highly motivating situation. As the 90's rolled round, I invested my songwriting abilities in Zero, where I once again found the mutual respect and excitement in creating that is such an important part of collaboration. When I received my final phone call from Jerry, it seemed like he was ready to put all the weirdness behind us and get back to business. He knew that his addiction had led to this creative impasse -he was unavailable for years at a time, other than for musical projects he could accomplish standing on his head- and it was imperative that I seek elsewhere.

My feeling is that I have only so many years I can presumably count on to complete the work I feel it is in me to do. There has always been a sense of urgency about it. I waste that ability at the price of my self respect. You may adjudge, by the amount of work I put into this Archive, how much creative energy I have at tap. Use it or lose it. At one time it was all put at the service of the Grateful Dead.

As to your other question, yes, I was a big Heinlein fan in my teens. By the time he wrote "Stanger in a Strange Land" I'd lost interest though, and didn't read the book. In my twenties, I was too busy writing to read much of anything at all, a situation which was remedied in my thirties and forties. In my mid-fifties, I read very little because I spend all my time writing. Am currently moving at a snail's pace through Ackroy's biograpy of Wm. Blake - whose poetry I read great gobs of several years ago while walking the treadmill. It's good to have your blood charging when you read Blake.

Subj: left on shelves collecting dust?
Date: Sep 7 1996 1:35 AM EDT
From: (C.S.Convery)

This is starting to get interesting. Especially for someone who dropped out
of the Dead scene sometime in the early eighties. It just wasn't weird
enough anymore. I must say however your brooding dark tone comes through
loud and clear in your journal. The fact that people are still interested
in pursuing this weirdness is hopeful. I must admit looking back on the
dead shows that thousands of people staring at 5 people wondering what they
would do next and no-one having a clue was a weirdness paradise. My
suggestion for the site is some kind of focus for these ideas. Categories
come to mind but reek of control. My point is I would like to see some
relationship between these ideas. Some chemistry if you will. A mailbag
seems like too many people talking at once. Maybe regions of the country?
Or random alphabetical letter headings? Topics also come to mind but reek
of "Coffee Talk." Forums aren't weird enough. Maybe Hyper-linked threads?



seems to me sheer anarchy is the only workable proposition. The lack of direction in the mailbag refects something similar in the community, but it does help define and perpetuate a sense of that community. It doesn't know what it is but is in the process of discovering itself. I feel that a light hand on the direction knob is indicated. I've felt a sense of direction emerging at times, in waves, but the waves roll out again. There are a few things I've encouraged dialogue on, but those subjects get repetitive and burn out pretty fast. I appreciate letters that move away from Grateful Dead subjects which can at times get narcissistic. I am somewhat shy of letters that wax too religious on the subject of the Dead. I get them, answer them, but tend not to print them. So there's some direction you may not have noticed. As with my writing, you may see more deeply if you look for what's not there. As for topical discussion, DeadNet will soon be linked up with the Well discussion groups for precisely that purpose. My mailbag is just my mail. It tends to be complimentary to me, because it IS my mail. People rarely write and tell me they hate me. In fact, never. Why bother? I publish letters roughly chronologically. Sometimes I move them around if I detect a thread. It might be interesting if someone were to hyperlink all instances of a given writer, but that's more work than I'm prepared to do. Got to draw the line somewhere. No leisure as it is. The brooding dark tone of my journal reflects current reality in our organization. It always has. This is a time of total change for us, and I try and record it as it goes down. Often I can only say how it affects me. But, as I point out now and again, it's my diary. I say how things seem to me and don't insist on them. Why? I really couldn't tell you. Seems like a good idea. A bit of a challenge. A bit of a goof. Weirdness? I wonder . . .


Yes I understand better that you are the focus of the current forum - but it
is still difficult to participate without a focus. In the past the music
lead but was not very good at leading. What I mean is the music was a focus
yet had no direction. Asian philosophy at its finest - "not that, not that
....." I think your brooding (De-construction) is a focus for me. I agree
with you regarding poetry being a slice in time without much continuity.
Brooding poetry is difficult to come by for me except in the case of R.Frost
and D.H. Lawerance. Under the surface of the music was a brooding dark
side. Weirdness if you will. Your tone would seem to keep the
un-adventurous out (as the music did at one time) so I think its important
in that sense. I don't mind not participating.


Date: Sep 7 1996 9:35 PM EDT
From: (C.S.Convery)

One of my reasons for writing is an attempt to understand whether the whole
GD monster was something I created or as I suspected filled some kind of
void, since after time it went away. I do appreciate you writing back.
When JG went to his next performance I was not looking forward to putting
the whole enchilada into perspective, probably because it had sat on the
back burner for the past decade while I watched others play. Some sort of
sick picture of a kid who cant play watching others play. So I put the
whole thing off because it was still evolving or de-evolving depending on
how you look at it. Then the big one came and as usual death takes us on
its trip which goes through the land of appreciation before it lets you off
at a place where you are happy for the ability to have even had the

You seem to be the bus driver for this trip. You wrote the words we
listened to while wondering what the whole thing meant now your hearing our
words. I am still discovering whether it was my creation or was there some
common threads which we were all privy to. If the later is true then we
defiantly belong on the web. Or at least in one place.

In your lyrical struggle with the beast - I see your intentions as pure - I
trust your sense of troubleshooting . Hope in winning a battle with the
beast - I think not. I think the my actions were somewhat less
confrontational. The human condition? - no too tragic. I think we just
wanted to see what's out there. Success was in our intentions of pure
exploration. We will meet any beast (and we did) not to fight but to talk
(and certainly not to agree with ) till there was nothing left to talk
about. Sometimes the beast talked back and we did the listening. Maybe
that was our weakness.

don't think you created the thing, except insofar as each mind creates everything from available data through the focus of desire. It was a world creation, a distillation of the 60's, last best hope of a better time before the government got wise in the ways of defusing potentially revolutionary movements before they get too far along. Like implementing the use of hard drugs in the Haight. I wasn't the bus driver, I was part of the engine. Possibly the carburator, or maybe a head gasket. Not a piston.

Yes, we belong on the web. It allows the benign anarchy we always desired without destroying the social system for people with more conservative desires. A lot of people just want to get drunk and watch TV after a hard day's work and, God bless 'em, it's their privilege.

As for troubleshooting the beast, we're speaking of a metaphor which was handy for expressing a certain personal perspective on my life with the band, but, as with all metaphors, it's not fruitful to carry the image too far. That gets into the problem of trying to define all aspects of the situation in terms of a single image, which leads to creating another damned myth. However, we DO need metaphors becuse it's not possible to hold the whole living vitality of anything in the memory at one time. So we use symbols. It is bad when we mistake people for the symbols we've assigned them. I try to address that pernicious problem - but must use other symbols to communicate the problem with symbols! At least I see, or so I think, the scope of the problem. The solution seems to be to examine the nature of symbols at the same time I use them, so that the metaphor doesn't become an indefensible item in its own right. A very interesting task. Possible? I think so. Communicable? That's another question. I've communicated a lot of the ongoing process in the mailbag and the journals, but, of course, many people haven't followed the dialogue from the beginning. It IS after all, becoming rather voluminous. Much of what I write lately must seem obscure to those who jumped in somewhere down the line in the midst of the exposition. But then, a good number of people figure that that's just Hunter being oblique again. Purposely ambiguous.

Your recent letters are exactly the sort of musings I welcome - thoughts that ask the questions which point to the next area to be examined. You've objected to the lack of focus in the mailbag. Upon further consideration, I think there are many points of focus - but the primary one is the questions, answers and comments that lead to untangling the existential facts of what happened in the last thirty years from attendent illusions and flat out delusions. I doubt if any cultural icon is quite so well documented and accessible for such structural examination as the phenomenon of the Grateful Dead. And I firmly believe it takes an insider with insight AND suitable distance, someone privy and instrumental to the development from the very beginning, and, furthermore, someone with a nodding aquaintance with phenomenology and modern critical thought, to assure that appropriate paths are marked. In all humility, it appears that if I don't do it, it won't get done.
Since both my public and personal identities are involved, it's a bit more detailed a task than spilling someone else's guts on the critical table and looking for omens. This may go some ways toward explaining the dark and brooding tone you detect in my approach. But the end object is to let what light is contained in the subject escape and shine. If I didn't know for a fact that there was a major component of positive energy awaiting release, specific lessons to be learned to avoid further tragedy, I damn well wouldn't bother. It's not a cheery task, but one I must work through to free myself from the metaphoric beast, who, as these things go, will more than likely prove to be myself.


email that crossed in the ether, before receiving the above reply:

Let me see if I've got this straight. Your songs are an attempt to go
beyond cultural reactions in the reader. To reach a place through writing
(de-construction) where you're at such a fundamental or fragmented state of
affairs that the reader must decide what is real through his own instinct or
intuition. This works through the struggle between good and evil(beast)
which breaks cultural reactionary thinking because of its fundamental
nature. But if as you say groups within a culture can give an issue
significance through Utilitarianism then its hit or miss once you get to the
foundation of this struggle Fragmentation in your writing (you would call
folk style) allows this process to be effective by not having much to hang
on to, only pointers towards the struggle. Very cryptic in that sense, yet
effective. If you still follow me and the writing is merely pointing the
way toward what is not there, aren't we back to a mere writing trick to
achieve this, or are you actually saying what is not there? Or is this
process the point ? An exercise in de-construction. If as I suspect, the
exercise is the point then are these pointers strategically placed or random
occurrences designed to keep you moving toward what is not there. I suspect
there are themes to a given piece of writing rather then individual ideas
de-constructed separately. If so don't these ideas have their roots in a
cultural struggle with the beast. I'm fishing here. If so then the process
is culturally cyclic from creation to de-construction. I would love to know
some of these themes if they exist in order to take a look at the "code" as
it were. I have a feeling this is what I'll find in the Franklin's Tower
essay. Who is the beast?

our emails crossed in the ether. I just sent off an answer to your last one, and some of the points you raised are addressed. Must differentiate between my prose and my lyric work here. My lyric work is my art, my writing in the journals and mailbags is a different thing. Different strictures apply to poetry than to consecutive reason. It would probably be a good idea to read what I've written already in those places. But I will say this: I didn't spend thirty years writing lyric with any master-plan in mind, so don't waste time looking for clues to a code which would reveal them to be essentially prose disguised as poetry - which seems to be what you're looking for. There are certainly allusive threads within given works, but they are more shadow than substance. Texture and resonance are what I aim for. If the resonances the words evoke in me in the writing of them communicates to others, and I have reason to believe they do, I've succeeded in my unstated goal: to communicate some bit of the depths we are mutually capable of feeling but can't exactly put into so many words. If my lyrics don't communicate a similar experience to someone, I'm sure they only seem strange and that person will not be moved to consider them further. As Garcia once said about the Grateful Dead: "not everyone likes licorice, but those who do like licorice tend to like it a lot."

I had a good friend of high intelligence who once spent a great deal of time looking for a streak of gnostic underpinning in my work, a rational cohesiveness to the whole, asking me numerous key questions, and finally deciding that since he could not find one, nor did I assert there was one, the whole opus was a crock of shit. Incidentally, he does not care at all for poetry. He can't understand why line breaks appear where they do. It's all too arbitrary. He loves a good puzzle, and expects every puzzle to have a solution.

Date: Sep 9 1996 9:19 AM EDT
From: Tygr redux

dear rh,
many gracious thank you's are in order. i thynk that it is a wonderful testament to the temper of the late sixties and early seventies "people in motion" movement that a literate, compassionate, sarcastic iconoclast such as yourself has a forum on this infant 'net and takes the tyme to respond-e-vous si vous plait (your hair) to all acolytes personally. the re-issue of that magnificent album* wyll hopefully inspire the next rainbow generation as it did myne (at least those of us fortunate enuf to have heard it when it first came out). and i yam sure that it will feature that remarkable artwork of the tiger head exploding from a rose which meant almost as much to me personally as the message inside on vinyl. may i ask who created it? my foggy mynd no longer remembers such thyngs. thanks again for all the inspiring years of rain. now if robert zimmerman would get a home page, i'd never get any more werk accomplished....
peace and carrots,
tygr roze redux
* Ryko's coming re-issue of the old version of Tiger Rose, the Garcia mix, with the old vocals. rh

the vision of the tiger in the rose came to me while napping on the couch. I immediately called Alton Kelly and he, along with Mouse, provided me with a cover to fit the dream.

Thank you for pegging me as a " literate, compassionate, sarcastic iconoclast." I treasure the definition and will try to live up to it.

Subj: Giant's Harp - Chapter 17
Date: Sep 9 1996 12:16 AM EDT
From: BD

Chapter 17. Simply exquisite.

The evidence to me for that ultimate evaluation is that, although I
look for it with a keen eye, I cannot find ANYTHING wrong with it. I
*want* to find some roughly-hewn imagery or carelessly grating
mis-characterization; any of the errors one would expect to find in drafts
tossed into the ethers like these are. But they're perfect. And I can be
a very discerning critic. (I was in the book business in an earlier
career incarnation, as an executive buyer for a chain of bookstores.)

I *was* uncomfortable with the fact that all the seemingly "evil"
influences in Terrapin are female, but even that turns out to be an
exquisite detail. This is a classic spiritual odyssey, so of course there
are heroes' journeys into caves and depths and battles with female banshees.
I wait with pleasant anticipation to see how you are going to resolve the
conflict of opposites.

I *am* uncomfortable with the fact that I find Ist and Isa to be
so totally *COOL*. They steal the show every time they enter the action.
"The Fair One must have conflict to make herself known." You do have a fine sense of Celtic magic, Robert.

What amazes me most about GH is that it is so different from
anything else you've done, that I know of. Losing yourself in the depths
of the characterizations you are spinning out here must be a new experience
for you. Your Muses must have new plans for you. One door closes,
another one opens. . .

With fond regards,

thanks for more fuel. I woke up at 1:30 this morning and wrote the letter, by hand, from Gia to Jabajaba that reveals all and climaxes the book.

My feeling is that Gia is the heroine of the book, in her conflict with Ist. Ist is an elemental, however, and behaves like one. I don't think of her as a villain so much as a composite energy arising from negative male-female relations, which her immanence either incites, or vice versa. That is not meant to be made perfectly clear, as it is not all that clear in life. I've designed the book so that you may choose to view Ist as an actuality or as a metaphor. Jabajaba and Elmo are inclined to the later view, Aeiou to the former (and the testing of his faith precipitates the final crisis which resolves the story) but you never know for sure about Gia. Actual materializations of Ist are necessary to move the plot along, somewhat to my discomfort, but there you have the strictures of the story teller's craft, where entirely lifelike ambiguity is not truly tolerable. That's why it's called fiction.

Echo and Jabajaba are protagonists of equal merit. This will also be more thoroughly understood at the climax. The true villain is Eliot, of whom you will discover a surprising detail in the final chapter. He has been the major crack in the dyke all along, through which the power of Ist is allowed to manifest. Elmo - well, what can you say about him? He began the book, first draft, as my protagonist - but his pitiful relational abilities became all too apparent when he met Isa, who created herself - I just had to follow along. In their interaction, it became apparent that someone else would be carrying the ball. Enter Jabajaba, and not a moment too soon. Later a second draft of the book was written. Third and fourth drafts of many of the chapters were also completed before I put the book away to season for a decade. With the help of my father's editing of the early version, I was able to see the strengths and flaws of the book and correct these. It took a lot of distance. The impetus of publishing chapters bi-weekly on the net assured that I trapped myself into a promise of completion, otherwise the book would have sat in my trunk gathering dust. The re-write is considerable. Very few paragraphs remain unrevised, the old songs were polished up, and a like number of new ones added. I'm sure it could use another complete light editing, but a time comes to let things go. If it works good enough, fine. I'm curious about what happens after the last chapter. Maybe curious enough to find out. But I would think twice about publishing a first draft of anything so ambitious as a novel.

Subj: Bill Monroe dies
Date: Sep 9 1996 4:23 PM EDT

Unbelievable! The DAY that I send the tapes to you, I get word that Bill
Monroe has died! Very depressing, but I guess he lived a long and productive
life and that he'll be remebered for a LONG time. This friday would have been
his 85th birthday (friday the 13th, hmmm!!??). Anyway, you should get the
tapes in a few days. I really hope that you enjoy them and perhaps, if you'd
like, I'll send you a few occasionally to keep you up to date with the
bluegrass world. Please pass my condolences on to Sandy Rothman.
Tom Melvin


will do. Tried to call Sandy but his phone just rang. Hope you like the tribute page I just put up. Played Bill's music all afternoon. A giant died today. He gave everything he had to give and we are rich with his legacy.

Subj: Bill Monroe
Date: Sep 9 1996 4:58 PM EDT
From: (D Collmer)

from a mailing list for the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS

>Date: Mon, 09 Sep 1996 15:18:06 -0500
>From: Roch Thornton <>
>Subject: Bill Monroe
>Bill Monroe, father of bluegrass music, dead at 84
>By JOE EDWARDS Associated Press Writer
> NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Bill Monroe, who became known as the Father of
>Bluegrass for combining mandolin, banjo, guitar and a ``high lonesome''
>singing style into a distinctive American music form, died Monday at 84.
> Monroe died at the Northcrest Home and Hospice Center in Springfield
>after suffering a stroke earlier this year, said Tony Conway, his
>booking agent.
> Working with such legends as Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in the
>'30s and '40s, Monroe created a style that remains enormously popular
>today through such younger stars as Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss.
> As a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, he headlined around the
>world and was honored at the White House. He sold more than 50 million
>records and remained active well into his 80s.
> Monroe's best known song was ``Blue Moon of Kentucky,'' which he
>wrote in 1946 and which Elvis Presley also recorded in 1954 on his way
>to stardom.
> Among Monroe's other records were ``Kentucky Waltz,'' ``Mule Skinner
>Blues,'' ``Pike County Breakdown,'' ``A Letter From My Darling'' and
>``Uncle Pen,'' the last a tribute to his uncle, fiddler Pendleton
>Vandiver, an early influence.
> Bluegrass music relies heavily on banjos, mandolins, acoustic guitars
>and fiddles, with lightning-fast picking and a yodeling vocal style. It
>gets its name from Monroe's band the Blue Grass Boys and the grass of
>his native Kentucky.
> In the 1940s, he hired Flatt and Scruggs for his band -- Flatt on
>guitar, Scruggs on banjo -- and they became two of the most acclaimed
>musicians in bluegrass history. Monroe himself could play most of the
>string instruments but was best known as a mandolinist.
> While bluegrass' popularity sagged in the early years of rock 'n'
>roll, it was rediscovered as part of the folk music boom of the 1960s.
> Monroe was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970. He
>played on the Grand Ole Opry from 1939 throughout his career.
> In 1989, Monroe was invited to the White House to meet President
>Bush, a country music fan.
> ``We talked about bluegrass music and how long I'd been on the Grand
>Ole Opry,'' Monroe said. Monroe was there again in 1995, as a winner of
>a National Medal of the Arts.
> He nearly always wore a coat and tie topped off by a white cowboy hat
>while performing. A proud man, he was said to have refused to speak to
>Flatt and Scruggs for more than 20 years after they left him in the late
> Monroe was born near Rosine, Ky., the youngest of eight children. He
>was orphaned by age 11 and raised by his ``Uncle Pen.'' By age 12,
>Monroe was playing music at dances with his uncle and perfecting his
>tenor voice.
> Starting in the late '20s, he performed for several years with his
>brothers Birch and Charlie. In a duo with Charlie, Monroe had an early
>hit in 1936 with ``What Would You Give (In Exchange for Your Soul).''
>After the two split in 1938, Charlie went on to form his own successful
>band, the Kentucky Pardners. Bill's children, Melissa and James, also
>became musicians.
> ``Bluegrass has brought more people together and made more friends
>than any music in the world,'' Monroe said in a 1978 interview. ``You
>meet people at festivals and renew acquaintances year after year.''

thanks for forwarding the Bill Bio. Will put it in the mailbag. I put up a nice tribute page for him today. Not a shock to hear he's gone, we were all prepared for it momentarily, but sad day nevertheless.

Subj: Bill Monroe memorial
Date: Sep 9 1996 9:45 PM EDT
From: (Catherine Gould Barrows)

Thanks. I found out by visiting your page. :~( <-tear-track

I haven't spent enough of my life listening to REAL music. My father's
family (in WVa) used to have pickin sessions on Saturday nights, through
the 40's into the mid-50s, too early for me, and my Brit, classical loving
mum would have Harumphed at it anyway. A huge family (9 children, one of
which was my grandmother) sitting on one of those huge wrap-around old
country home porches, pickin and thumpin whatever they could muster. I
grew up on such dreams, fed to my older brother and me by my dad's cousin
who bought a custom-made banjo in the early 60s for a whopping $500. A
scandalous waste of money!!! (Well, a lot in those days.) I loved him

Thanks, and thanks again.


Subj: Bill Monroe...
Date: Sep 10 1996 8:37 AM EDT

I sat down on the train to ride into work this a.m., flipped the paper
over in my lap, skimmed the headlines of flooding here in Washington
D.C., and found the news.
Bill Monroe, days before his 85th Birthday, passed away.
Not much that I can say here that hasn't been said, 'cept the article was
quite tasteful and well-informed. They even quoted Jerry G.:

"He's one of the most important guys in 20th-century American
music...(he) invented a music thats peculiarly American."

I like that quote.

The article also went on to tell of rock & roll having once been
described as "slow motion, electrified bluegrass."

For myself, it was a perpatrator of electrified bluegrass-- Jerry
Garcia-- who moved me into bluegrass. (Old & In The Way didn't hurt!)
That, and remembering your recent E-mail exchanges with Sandy Rothman
inspired me to flip directly to your site (intending to mail you for some
reason... I'm not overly sad, just feel a need to remark on this passing)
and WOW! a beautiful image greets me. I figured that folks had heard
about this yesterday, but I've kept busy and miss the evening news six
nights out of seven...

Fortunately, this company gives me Netscape with quick web interface and
opportunity to browse...(If only they'd give me an E-mail address!) In
the past year I've turned my life into something hugely different from
what it was... Tie-wearing job as opposed to tye-dye wearing record store
clerk, an engagement and a now three month old daughter keep me occupied
100% of the time... I find little time to dwell on what isn't there. I
still dream, smilingly, of what was and thrill to what remains and
anticipate what is to come... But I get by...

Sorry to meander. Your site makes me dizzy with thoughts of all kinds.
You do a great job of keeping us (me at least... others can certainly
speak for themselves) entertained and informed. Keep it up! Also, as I
can't make the chat, tell Mickey that we love what he's doing (your
lyrics rule as well. It seems to go w/out saying, though, Perpaps I
should...) and we can't wait for the next step for all of you and
whomever you find to bring along!!!

As Always,
"Gonna Get there, I don't know..."

glad to hear the coverage about Bill is good. I heard from my email friends. Turned on the radio right away and scanned both am and fm bands and heard not a whit of the high lonesome, which angered me, so I put on the MCA boxed tape set 1936-1994 I just happened to buy three days ago and started at the beginning, "On My Long Journey Home," put the cover picture in my scanner and started figuring how to turn a 1.2 megabyte image into 34k. Managed to do so with my growing bag of photoshop dodges. Looks great on Netscape, but AOL 2.7 turns it into a series of smaller pictures, refusing to recognize my 800x600 pixel command (one full IBM screen - though I've never seen my file on an IBM), and generally redesigning my page to fit its specs, as usual. Vent, vent! If it wasn't for Geoff Gould I'd hate those guys! Anyway, I finished the picture, posted, dialed it up on DeadNet and called Maureen to have a look. We gazed at it while "Uncle Pen" played on the tape and both felt kind of choked up.

Thanks for your letter. Sounds like you're taking the "GD mutual training" out into "reel life" as are so many. Time will tell what subtle changes it may bring to our trash-tip bound culture, but it begins to dawn on me that maybe that was the eventual purpose of the experiment - the culture knew what it needed and allowed us to exist in full flower long enough to establish something. What? We'll see. Good luck!

Forward From:
Subject: Tributes to Mr Monroe now on a web page.
Michael Kear, mkear@HEALEY.COM.AU writes:
>There have been so many wonderful stories about Mr Monroe on this list =
>that I've collected them and put them on a web page. I think that =
>together they paint a wonderful picture of the man who was so much more =
>than a picker to all of us. I think it would be a pity for these =
>messages to just disappear into the delete bucket.
>I hope no one minds my using their posts for this purpose. I so, please =
>email me and I'lll fix it immediately. And I'll keep adding to it as =
>the stories continue to accumulate.
>See it at http:/

Subj: Bill Monroe
Date: Sep 14 1996 12:54 AM EDT
From: (Peter S. Oleson and Family)

I grew up in an old country-western household.
The "grand ol' opry" was something we used to hear with dozens of stations cross-interfering.
After Diane and I moved to Alaska, it wasn't long before my brother Otis moved out, and my sister started being away from home, too.
My Mom, without so many kids to worry about, would take off with her friends and go to the Beanblossom Festival down in Indiana.
Sometimes they would take in some of the other festivals on the tour.
I remember her letters, full of joy over the music.
The trips slowed down as she got older and older.
A few years ago, I gave her a boombox with a CD player in it to take the place of the traditional radio we all listened to every morning when we got up to go to school.
The year after, for Christmas, I gave her the Bill Monroe 4 disc anthology to listen to on her CD player.
I didn't get a chance to copy the music onto cassettes, it being the holiday season and all.
I wrote her this summer and asked if she would send me copies of the songs.
On the 9th, Diane had picked up a package from the Post Office.
I was driving home from work when I heard the news on the radio.
"Bill Monroe, the father of Bluegrass, died today..."
A real bummer, but not unexpected, never the less, unreplaceable.
I opened the box on the table that came in the mail and pulled out the four cassettes of beautiful Bill Monroe bluegrass music.
Plain folks, plain thoughts.
I know the man believed in God, so I hope that's who he's singing with tonight.
As a poor mandolin player myself,
I was always driven crazy by the way he could play around the beat and never hit it.
That kind of shit, and Garcia used to do it all the time, too, can drive a mediocre player to distraction.
Play to the sky tonight,
friends missing in action.

Subj: Bill Monroe
Date: Sep 11 1996 3:34 PM EDT

Couldn't help but notice the image of William Smith Monroe on your web
page today. When I was reading his obit in the paper I ran across a
comment he made concerning his music where he stated that playing blue
grass was akin (or with kin!) to competition. The competition was with
each player trying to out do the other on the licks. The lightbulb
went "cha-ching" and I instantly saw the Dead and it readily explained
much about why practitioners of as seaming diverse (or derivative)
music as Bill Monroe and the Dead are so compelling and enjoyable. It
went along way towards saying why the Dead's live music had such a fun
"intellectual" quality to it that always seemed beyond my ability to
explain it. Adding to the music was the story- one which you helped
to weave- and which always applied differently to various situations
in my life and whose meaning evolved as I grew. I have personally
adopted as my career motto: "When life looks like easy street there is
danger at your door!"

I come from a large family of which six of seven siblings needed no
excuse to go see the Dead. While our careers and family have spread
us far and wide from the NY home, shows provided us with maybe the
only chance of the year to get together and just hang out. Thanks for
your contribution to the whole thing. IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN MUCH

No real reason to respond to this- just kind of FYI and fuel for

Tim Kelly
Acton, MA.

P.S. & FYI: My wife and I chose "They love eachother" as our song at
our May 96 wedding. We only got through about the first 2 and a half
minutes of the Maples Pavilion '73 tape- we stepped on each others toes
and dislocated our shoulders one too many times for it to continue. It
was kind of cheesy, rather embarrassing, and very much fun!

never thought of it like that. Of course bluegrass was a "say that's pretty good, now look at this!" kind of music from the get-go. Me, it was all I could do to keep the rhythm without none of them fancy furls, but there's a time honored place for a dumb guy in a bluegrass band. Cousin Elmer. Let me say though, our lead guitarist, though honed in that acoustic school, realized the sustained note possibilities first made possible by the development of the Les Paul solid body guitar and opted for poise, coloration and apt inversion over specifically intricate licks at breakdown speed. Those who thought he didn't play guitar so good were those who equated "good" with speed, NPS (notes per second.) A common mistake.

The converse of your motto is "When the hour is darkest you will receive a letter from Ed McMahon saying you've won a million dollars."

Date: Sep 12 1996 10:43 PM EDT
Subj: humorous.coincidence

Correllary Theory:" When things are at their darkest Ed McMann Calls to tell you you've won 1 million dollars". pardon the paraphrase.

Hey guess what was in the mail today when I got home!! Ed McMann bearing gifts!

What - did you get yours yesturday?

The correllary theory needs a little updating to 11 million dollars. Ed will call with the "checks in the mail!"!

It funny how connective strings play themselves out.

Tim Kelly
Acton, MA

ain't that something! Probably superstitious of me but I have a notion that benign coincidences indicate when we're on some kind of positive beam.

Subj: Bill Monroe
Date: Sep 12 1996 4:45 PM EDT

Hi Robert. Hope you got the tapes, tommorrow if not today. Just wanted to
say thanks for giving Bill a place of honor on your page. Glad to see that
you've got that box set, (I know where that picture came from!), lots of
great stuff in there. If you don't already have it, check out the Smithsonion
release of the live material from the early fifties through 1969, "Off the
Record Vol. 1". I was thinking of all of the people that will (hopefully)
take a closer look at Bill's music because you've brought him to their
attention by placing him on your web page. I'm sure that a lot of Deadheads
know who he is in the basic sense, but have never really taken the time to
explore the music. That's kind of a neat power that you have, positive use of
celebrity and all of that. I was thinking last night and realized that Bill
died exactly 13 months to the day after Jerry (there's that number again!).
Hope there's nothing more then coincidence in that. It's been strange
reading peoples comments and stories about Bill on the bluegrass listserve and
flashing back to a year ago when the same sort of comments where coming in
about Jerry. It's certainly been a rough year for me as far as musical
influences go. BTW, I was looking through the booklet inside the MCA boxed
set that you got that picture from and if you look at the full 2 page picture
in the middle, (pages 51 and 52 I think), that's the lineup he was using on
the 1969 tape I just sent you. What are the odds of that, especially
considering how many people went through that band! Also liked the picture of
Sandy at Bill's birthplace. It really is amazing to me how there's a thread
that runs all the way from the Grateful Dead to Bill Monroe, not just in
conceptual terms but as physical fact with people like Sandy and Peter Rowen
who were involved with both Jerry and Bill. I was wondering if you'd care to
share any of your remembrances of playing bass with the Hart Valley Drifters?
Did you do it much, or was it just a few times? What do you remember of it
all? I know it's a long time ago (another lifetime almost, considering all
that's gone down since then), but I've always been intrigued by the picture of
you guys playing at the Monterey Festival. (Wow, Hunter played upright bass!)
Were you just the guy around when they needed someone on bass? I've heard a
lot of stories from my bluegrass friends about dragging someone out of the
audience, showing them G,D, and C, and saying "OK, go!". Just curious.
On a completely different subject, love the Orfeo files, lots of good stuff to
think about. As always, you've got the best site on the web. All for now,
thanks for listening, enjoy the tapes, and I hope re-adjusting to Califorina
life is going smoothly. Later.
Tom Melvin

remembrances? I got 'em. The Bob & Jerry duet evolved into the Thunder Mountain Tub Thumbers (old timey music, I played washtub bass, with me, Jerry and Jim and Joe Edmiston. I had a great washtub with f-holes cut in it, painted white. As I recall, Dave Nelson joined us and we became the Hart Valley Drifters, with the Edmiston brothers dropping out, also a washtub band, and then the Badwater Valley Boys for one gig, with Ken Frankle on banjo, opening for the Kentucky Colonels at the Ash Grove. Then we went Bluegrass as "The Wildwood Boys" with me on standup bass, Jerry on Banjo and Nelson on guitar. Then I picked up mandolin, with Norm Van Maastricht taking over on bass. The picture at the Monterey folk festival has me on bass because I got stuck in traffic and showed up just in time to get onstage. Ken Frankel was already standing in on mandolin, so I just grabbed the bass. Later Nelson moved over to Mandolin & Sandy Rothman came in on guitar (then Eric Thompson - or vice versa - maybe Eric was first) and the group became "The Black Mountain Boys" from which I was dropped due to the evolving high professional caliber of the musicianship. I did it for fun, was essentially a writer, and didn't put in the practice time to compete, whereas the others lived and breathed bluegrass. Fair enough. But while it was still loose and fun, I had the time of my life. I still play mandolin with Nelson, Sandy and Keith's brother Brian Godchaux, who is a heck of a fiddle, at the office Christmas parties. Both Sandy and Frank Wakefield have admitted I do have something unique going on mandolin, plus I have a decent bluegrass tenor and a powerful song memory. But I don't tend to take my F5 off the wall until a month before Christmas, so I don't guess I have much future in bluegrass. Thanks for asking.

Subj: The Big Man
Date: Sep 12 1996 10:24 PM EDT
From: (Glenn Wells)

Dear Robert,

Having my head stuck in work this week I was caught completely off
guard by the death of Bill Monroe, even though I knew he had been ill.
What great sorrow. Thinking about Dylan's eulogy for Jerry, the
embodiment of whatever is muddy river country...Jesus. The hinges may
have fallen from heaven's door, but the big white Stetson way up on
high gives the Blue Moon a run for its money.

John Hartford's wonderful tribute can be found:

guess it was time to sing "Y'all come."

Date: Sep 10 1996 8:49 AM EDT
From: (Steve Wright)


Thanks for the tribute to a great one. I had the privilege to see and
hear Mr. Monroe at The Grand Old Opry, in 1989. Crisp, well-tailored
suit, familiar white cowboy hat, a voice that came from deep in the gut,
and a fast-pickin' sure-handed mandolin style that never seemed to
betray the signs of age.

I guess I played 'closer' attention to him because of his fondness for
New England. I also saw him play at Jonathan Swift's in Cambridge. He
was last in Boston in 1981, where he was awarded a piece of a Boston
sidewalk by local bluegrass promoter Nancy Talbott. The sight of the
gentlemanly Monroe lugging off a piece of sidewalk is unforgettable.

You ever notice how he kept bluegrass simple (actually I guess a better
word is pure), by resisting electric instruments, and (yikes) lyrical

Anyway, thanks for recognizing him.


you oughta have heard the contempt that came from the bluegrass community when we went electric. Cries of treachery and opportunism from the very real Bluegrass Police! Bill's influence on the music and lyrics of the GD is incalculable, but we were a product of our time and culture, he of his. That's the nature of change, to be perfectly trite. What I don't understand is an electrified bluegrass band, but no fair pointing fingers.
Bill knew proper proportion and emphasis. He was pure golden talent anchored to the Rock of Ages reaching for the moon. Best voice that ever was or could be.

Date: Sep 10 1996 10:45 AM EDT
From: EDWARDST@LANMAIL.SHU.EDU (Stephen J. Edwards)


I had sent you a letter about three years ago (a real letter, through
the mails) and I was overjoyed when you actually wrote back on that
old typewriter, encouraging me to continue with my writing.

Since that correspondence, I have accomplished a lot of things,
including the founding of the New City for Lost Poetics, a
poetry/film/adventure group. I also moved around all over the
northeast, staying upstate New York for the majority of my time
abroad. During this time, I had the great honor of meeting and
studying with Ed Sanders (a Woodstock, New York resident) and Allen Ginsberg.

I'm not sure if you remember me -- the only thing I can think of that
would trigger a memory was that my letter was very honest,
handwritten, and praised Eight Below Zero, my favorite of your

I wanted to thank you for your encouragement, and would like to keep
up a healthy correspondence, if that's okay with you!

Have a fabulous day,

Stephen Edwards


I remember. Spreading your wings, eh? Good for you. Ed and Allen are good teachers, world aware and dynamic. They know stuff needs to get out there, not just sit around in books.
Sure, go ahead and write me. If the word "healthy" means voluminous and often, be aware that I'm operating at maximum capacity already, but I reckon I can squeeze a few more in. Also note that my mail, like my journal, is public these days.

Date: Sep 13 1996 7:30 PM EDT
From: (Marian Wright)

Hi Robert,

Have ya missed me? Been here but haven't wanted to add to your volume of
email during your vacation and the inevitable August deluge, everything
pretty well covered by others anyway. Many thanks for the special editions
of the mailbag and the latest one too, not to mention the sacrafice of
most of your vacation time in August.

Glad you had a good vacation. I really enjoyed the reports and photos
from your excursions and from outside your window. The sky was yellow!!!
Of course the sun was blue.

It's getting harder and harder to wait for the rest of Giant's Harp, hope
the email is slacking off so you can finish it. I don't know whether you
want minor error detection, but the html of chapter 17 has quite a number
of strangely placed hyphens. Starts with the word ear-lier (I think it's
the 7th paragraph) when Elmo carries Echo to the mine and occurs frequently
throughout the rest of the chapter. No big deal, just curious.



I did notice that you hadn't written lately as a matter of fact. Thanks for the hyphen catch! No one mentioned it. Fixed it up. What happened is I auto-hyphenated the chapter for the PDF file (I can't believe anyone not on AOL reads those damned HTML versions when Adobe Acrobat PDF reader is a free download!) and then transferred the file to HTML assuming the hyphens somehow disappeared, which I think they've always done before, so maybe it's a bug in my beta version of PageMill 2. It didn't happen in Chapter 18 because I forgot to hyphenate. I swear, this Site is like a dozen white mice running in all directions; if it isn't one damned thing it's another. That yellow sky made up for a lot of things. God it was gorgeous! Absolute enchantment fell over London. Later it deepened into shades of scarlet and bruised purple. There I was in a characteristic pose, up on the roof filming the sky.

Date: Sep 13 1996 3:45 PM EDT
From: (Conrad Miller)

Hi Robert,

I've just finished listening to Mystery Box "Down The Road" for the
first time. I'd like to pre-qualify the following with these
words. I am not one generally given to histrionics. Sure, when I
read your Eulogy to Garcia a lump came to my throat and a tear to
the eye - but that truly was a rarity.

I was sitting in my office at home today taking care of some
business correspondence. "Mickey Hart's Mystery Box" was playing
in the background. "Where Love Goes" - Gentlemen: I am in receipt
of your Invoice for the above mentioned project.... "Full Steam
Ahead" - ...Essentially there were three areas of concern. All
were interrelated to storm water runoff and drainage. An estimate
was requested for the following work...

"Down The Road" - a grenade has ripped my soul -




Profound words, a masterpiece - with eloquent voice.

Thank you Jerry Garcia, Thank you Robert Hunter, Thank you Grateful
Dead ...

With love,


Date: Sep 13 1996 5:50 PM EDT
From: JerzGone

Herr Jaeger der Liedermeister -

Just thought I'd drop you a note from Albany, NY where you are well-regarded. Tygr rose redux of Texarkana recently gave me incentive to listen to album of that name after several years (had to actually hook up a turntable!). Trr tells me it will soon be available on CD - a worthy companion to Rock Columbia, Rum Runners & Sentinel on my rack.
Any tour plans? As familiar as I am with your work, I've never seen you perform live. Have you ever considered a double-bill tour with Dawg? That would be tasty, especially in a smallish venue like the acoustically superb Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, where I caught the DGQ last winter.
Would appreciate a reply suitable for pasting into the fly-leaf of my copy of Box Of Rain. Needless to say, there are legions of us keepin' on keepin' on, primarily on the Net. Thank you for a real good time -

no touring plans for the foreseeable future. I want the kind of stability of environment that will continue to allow me to persue my writing as a full time endeavor in the decade or two, depending on luck, I may have before achieving the bliss of senility. Going on the road would tend to lower that available time and I'm not sure the result would be worth the expense. Every time I answer that question I refine my reasons for doing what my intuition recommends without a second thought. When it says go, I go. If not, I don't. If supporting my family drives me out, I go regardless, and I hope you'll come.

Date: Sep 13 1996 10:51 AM EDT
From: (Frank Citino)

dear rh,

I do not want to start off by asking you to hit the road and perform. Being
a parent of a 3 1/2 year old, I know the need to stay close to home very
well. There are many joys in life, but none compare to watching a child
grow and change every day. It is the most magical thing I've ever

Now that your songs aren't as readily available in a live format (Zero and
Mystery Box are wonderful, but do not have the touring schedule of the GD),
they are still being played in the living rooms and back porches of many a
household. They are not only being played, but being passed on. I play
music around the house probably 2 to 3 times a week. I'd say that 50% of
the material that I play is yours and I can't begin to tell you how many
times I've played something and my wife (who is not familier with you work)
says "wow that was really beautiful, who wrote it?" and I'd say Robert
Hunter, then my son says "play it again".

Keep up the good work and thanks for the words!

Frank Citino
Assistant to the Director
Information Systems
Smith College


yeah, watchin' 'em grow is what it's all about.

Zero could be just as available as people are willing to crawl out of the past and go see what's up now. They'll keep the tradition alive anyway, but there's an awful lot of music pouring from them that's going to waste in spades. I'll never understand why they weren't invited on the Further tour, whether from politics or simple blindness to what's right under our noses. With a dozen years on the road, this is not just another aggregate. It's the hottest, tightest, roots based music around.

Date: Sep 11 1996 11:58 AM EDT
From: (McLeod, Iver J.)

Hi - I've run across your journal on the web but haven't had time to read
through much of your entries (I'm building a house in addition to working 40
hours a week!) I look forward to some free time, though, when I can sit
back and enjoy them. In the meantime...

Years ago (about 15) when I was in college I somehow ran across the
following poem in the October 1912 edition of the Atlantic Monthly (p. 454):


by Paul Mariett

The grateful dead, they say, lie snug and close
Under the smooth, soft sloping of the grass,
Grateful indeed because above them pass
No other steps than those of wind or bird;
No other sound is heard.

For without eyes we see and, earless, hear;
Sweeter is this than nights of restless mood,
Sweeter than nights of blank infinitude,
Sweeter than ghostly pageants of a dream,
Half-caught of things that seem.

Another life have we than those who live,
Another death have we than those who die;
Mortal and ghost and angel pass us by,
Mortal and ghost and angel have one breath;
Die, would ye learn of death!
What with 30 odd years (and they were ODD) of the Grateful Dead I'd be
surprised if you had never seen this...Still, it's somewhat spooky how much
the lyrics remind me of your work! I mean, "For without eyes we see and,
earless, hear" and "Sweeter is this than nights of restless mood" remind me
alot of Crazy Fingers. Anyway, I'd be interested in knowing if you've read
this before and what you think of the poem in general.

no, I hadn't seen it - and yes, the resemblances are spooky!

Subj: Let me tell you about fifteen minutes
Date: Sep 11 1996 2:28 AM EDT
From: (Raymond A. Shelton)

Let me tell you about fifteen interesting minutes in my life; they happened
last Monday.

They began at about 5:45 as I was on my bicycle, headed home from work.

There is a hill that is about 1/3 the way to work, and it serves as a kind
of "worst part's behind me" marker of a morning when I don't drive.

Conversely, it also serves as a kind of "Yippee!" on my way home, for I
almost always blow off the stop sign and see how fast I can get going down
this hill (if I am on my bike.)

Yesterday I blew off the stop sign, but soon found that city "workers" had
been "improving" the road surface toward the bottom of the hill that day.

I knew fairly early in the game that I would be Dismounting This Bike, but
happily I am still able to ride out a bit of roughness and brake down to a
reasonable speed while planning where precisely I ought to abandon ship.

My plan would have worked flawlessly -- there were no cars parked anywhere
near where my head was gonna be headed -- had my overreaction not led to
the rear brake suddenly seizing the rear wheel, which I watched fold like a
tossed dirty sock.

This premature ejection from my bike drew a small crowd and applause,
as happily I was uninjured and able to lay the bike down to the left, thus
ensuring no damage beyond the ruined rim, as the deraileur mechanism
traveled "face up."

(Here, let "unhurt" mean he only got a raspberry on his left butt cheek.)

I mutter something about Mondays, lock the wreck to a pole and begin the
five-ish block walk that remains to my house and car (with bike rack,
which I planned to employ shortly.) But when I am perhaps 75 yards from
my front door, I hear the screaming tires of a racing automobile.

Instantly there is an old pickup truck, with Columbia's finest in hot
pursuit, headed my way.

The truck tries to turn left onto Smith Street from Fay, but cannot
negotiate the turn at this high rate of speed, and instead collides with
trees in the vacant lot next to my house, knocking the front tire and wheel
from the passenger side of the vehicle.

A large athletic non-Caucasian male leaps from the truck and runs into my
back yard, over the wooden privacy fence, cop on his heels. Moments later
there is another, and another, and another, marked police car in front of
my house. I stop. I turn to _my_ left, the other way on Smith Street, to
go talk to my neighbor John. I tell him why I am having a rip in my shirt
and a pain in my ass, and then direct his attention to the activity in
front of my house, one block away.

I decided not to go home just yet. Instead, catycorner from John in one
direction is the grade school but in the other lives my friend Brian, who has a
pickup truck of his own. We got in it, away from the scene of the crime and off to get
my bike...and then some great Mexican food.

When I returned, feeling satiated, no cops -- the wrecked truck was towed.

There is just one last thing which I believe bears remarking in closing.

Had the dude on the run done what I did, turn west vice east onto Smith, he
would have been barreling on down the road in the general direction of
John (whose household includes at a minimum 6 cats, a wife expecting
twins, and himself), my friend Brian and the neighborhood elementary
school (briefly, parenthetically: perhaps more interesting is the notion that
had he [again] done what I did, and rode a bike that day, then things might have
turned out differently still {Exercise One, solution left to the reader:
Assume Ray had stopped to check on the tape backup on that fateful day, and
further suppose he had stopped at the stop sign on his bike; then, would he have
been in the path of the high speed pursuit, or would he instead have made
it home safely mere moments before only to have died of the heart attack which

would have followed from racing to his window to see what the commotion
was all about and finding The Well Armed Police Battalion running toward
his house?}.)


yeah, it was that kinda day for me too.

Subj: possibilities......
Date: Sep 10 1996 8:19 PM EDT

Dear Robert,

Let me introduce myself first. My name is Greg Keyser, and I
live in Fairfax, VA. I am 24 years old, getting married to a girl I love
very much in November (McCalli), and have a baby boy named Wylie Elijah
Keyser. Not that you really wanted all that info, but for some reason I
felt like telling you.

I have been watching, or should I say reading and absorbing the
journal for several months now. I've been wanting to write now that the
"avenue" is open, but I did not want to write just for the hell of it.

As with many people who write you, I admire, respect, listen,
hear, contemplate, and appreciate the time you have taken (most of your life)
to share yourself with us. Saw my first show at a place called
(Merriwether Post Pavillion in 1985. Late start I guess but I was only 13.
I would love to tell you how much you in general have affected my life,
but in order for me to do that I would have to go into some serious
detail, and unless you are interested, I will keep it to myself. So I
will leave it at a simple thank you for now.

I am writing concerning two things. The first is you, and your rare
appearances on the East Coast. I saw you play with Tom C. in Washington D.C,
about four years ago, and it was one of the best shows I have ever been to.
I missed you at the Birchmere a couple years ago, and my point is please
come back. I don't care if you come to some club, or coffeehouse, or
biker bar. If you are ever in the area, you are welcome at my house for
awhile, so that is an option also.(Ha, Ha) I miss having good lyrics,
combined with a good overall feeling.

My second point is more of an idea actually. I miss the GD, but
what I miss most is the feeling of family that many of us felt. I have
been to Rainbow Gathering's, Phish show's (Do you like them at all?),
festivals, and anything else you can think of. Nothing compares.
Granted the crowd was actually a mini copy of society, and there were a
lot of bad aspects also, but I think a good majority of people TRIED to be
nice. Anyway, I think a way to recapture that would be to retry the
Acid Tests on a larger scale, and of course without the legal LSD. I am
not proposing a drug fest. What I want to see is a tour of
warehouses/small general andmission theaters where two sets of a good
Grateful Dead Concert are played. Maybe some guest speakers, maybe a
makeshift light show. Nothing too fancy. The idea is to get the real
crowd, (not the people who were not at shows for the music and words and
thinking, and fun, and life, and overwhelming spiritual experiences (more
on that another time)) get the music, and have everyone shake their booty.
I'm tired of cover bands. I know the Fillmore event was something like
the above description, I just want to see it on a wider scale. For those
in the organization concerned with money, I truly think it would be
successfull. (sp?) For those concerned with the spirit, I know it could
be reborn. It's hard to organize when everyone is scattered.

I have rambled way too much. Please forgive me. Thank you for
listening. If you could tell me what you think, I would appreciate it.
If not, I sincerely wish you the best, and thank you for all the words of
wisdom, because that is what they are. You changed my life, not by your
thoughts, but by making me think. I will always be grateful.


thanks for a very positive letter. I think what you're proposing would involve us becoming an actual production company, ala, BGP - and that means going into competition with existng companies, making appropriate political payoffs, greasing the cops and mafia, etc. We have neither the personnel nor the expertise. We were a product in ourselves, not a purveyor of products. Whole different game.
As for performing myself, I've got a job I love right now. You're reading in it. It's full time. Figure I should close up shop and go be a troubador instead? Been through that mill, but I appreciate your wanting me to perform. There were things I loved about it (actually playing) but booking, travel, hotels, soundchecks, short sleep and bad food are the real reality behind that hour or two of fun and music. Maybe someday, once for auld lang syne, but not in the foreseeable.

From: Alan Doyle
Subj: Hits and Myths

Re the latest journal entries:
... You're dead-on about the press and deconstruction. As venal as life has become in so many ways, the press has made it that much worse in the last 20-30 years by creating God figures then setting about debunking them before anointing the next deity. We see it most often in politics. Music and popular culture aren't far behind.
... About mythology and writing/creating for public consumption, but first this digression. Tell me if this is near the truth.
It seems that those of us who write or otherwise indulge in the creative process for public offering work in sort of a triune environment.
- What the work means to us as creators.
- What the work means to our collaborators/intimates/close friends.
- What the work means to the consumers.
The three may be related or have no connection at all. What the CONSUMER infers may not be near to the creator's meaning. But does that diminish the value?
The question occurs in regard to mythology, deification and the whole GD thing.
Bear with me a bit; I'm not completely articulate on this in my own mind yet.
It goes something like this: I've never met you. I met Garcia in passing on several occasions; it would be feckless arrogance to say I knew him.
But is it necessary to know the creator as an individual? And is it not a mistake to seek to deify the creator rather than ponder the creation?
Seems to me all that's necessary is what's created has some spiritual value to the person who partakes of it. For example: beyond the grapevine and the notes in "Box of Rain," I haven't a clue what the poetry meant to YOU when you wrote it. But that doesn't diminish the value of the words and thoughts in my life. And there is something to be said for the fact that long before I had any notion of the circumstances around "Ripple," it helped me get through the deaths of loved ones and once-loving relationships.
Even though newspaper writing is about as primitive and simplistic as it gets, I've been constantly amazed at the response to some of the pieces I wrote. People culled all sorts of things that I'd never even remotely intended, at thought it was of value; much of what I tried to communicate was missed. Which sadly may say as much about me and the medium as them. Or it just may be something that's endemic to writing. What do you think?
But aside from the inevitable vagaries of human nature, I can't understand this deification process. The message is what's important, and what you do with it.
They may not be as immediate as this electronic world into which we've ventured, but poetry and music truly are interactive media. I may not have remotest idea of what was running through your mind when you wrote "Ripple," "Libery" or "Box of Rain," for example, but I know the effects on and value they have had in my life. And that seems to have far less to do with WHO wrote them than what and how I interpreted them.
I think I'm losing focus here.
Best to regroup, think more about it and wait to hear what you have to say.

synchronistically enough, I was writing a letter to Terence McKenna on that very subject when I received yours. Your lines: "People culled all sorts of things that I'd never even remotely intended, as thought it was of value; much of what I tried to communicate was missed. Which sadly may say as much about me and the medium as them. Or it just may be something that's endemic to writing. What do you think?" are almost identical to my thought. This must be a thought that's in the air at this very moment. I even added the caveat that it may be the imprecision in my writing that causes this but I'm more inclined to think it's the human condition, including my own. We read and hear what we already know, what we expect, and language is amorphous enough to allow it, if we just gloss over a few incongruous details that would change the message entirely.

Date: Sep 12 1996 3:34 AM EDT
From: (Jeffrey A. Weyand)

well, i come to your site every now and again with the intention of sending
a message, and each time there's been a note saying, not now, come back
later,which speaks volumes about my sense of timing. but if, as the chinese
say, perseverance furthers, then i'll get this down now and be ready for
the all's clear signal.

been thrashing around in my heart and head for months now, in this newfound
post garcia world, searching for clues from the universe as to how it could
all end now, when, on the surface, it appears to be exactly what we need
the most. shock was the word used by you, and indeed, after 23 years of
garcia, shock has buffered the storm.

finding enormous comfort and joy in zero right now. a wonderful, outdoor,
private party atmosphere on garcia's birthday in harrisburg, or. thanx so
much for all these wonderful zero tunes. zero is a very happening situation
right now, the first set at harrisburg as good as it gets. and, as alluded
to by you in the journal re: stadium dead, the best part about zero is the
accessibility of it all, much the same as seeing you in small clubs in
seattle(we talked briefly in the early 80's at the rainbow tavern on 45th),
and seeing garcia at the keystone in the early 70's. for me the great
attraction of zero, aside from the music of course, is that, casual is way
cool. the dead circus was, indeed, a party gone out of bounds in the 90's,
and the payoff very rarely matched the peripheral bullshit. although i can
happily report that my final run of shows after 23 years, in seattle and
portland in 95, were as wonderful and energizing as any mickey
says, there is something very special about 30 to 40 thousand people

this visit has been brewing for quite some time, but the actual prompt to
knock came just yesterday in the form of an anecdote about our departed
friend. I went river rafting on the skagit river in north cascades national
park where i work. our guide was a young man, maybe 20-22, from san rafael,
working at the park as a volunteer for the summer. in the course of
getting-to-know-you's, i mentioned that i had spent time in the bay area
being a deadhead. he related that he would regularly see garcia out walking
while he was running. garcia would smile and mimic a runner pumping his
arms. he never knew who he was until he got to college and some of his
young deadhead friends showed him a picture of the dead.
"hey, there's that fat guy i used to see when i was running!". i commented
to my girlfriend, eleven years younger and a latter era circus deadhead,
that i felt certain that garcia cherished the anonymity with that young
runner, just two simple strangers passing with a smile.
and tonight i visit your journal for the first time in a couple of months
and here are your thoughts on anonymity, and garcia's lack thereof!

allow me the indulgence of one more quick one,(am i teetering on the edge
of band width abuse??).
i was in portland in a wonderful little deadhead shop("think good
thoughts") and saw this interesting sticker of a skeleton with its hands on
the side of its head, eyesockets starward, saying, "what was i saving my
money for?". you know, even after 23 years of involvement, and the
disillusionment of 90's GD, i have found myself saying those very words
many times in the last year!

i'll close now with two thank yous: for this ongoing body of creative work
that continually inspires me with its timelessness and relevancy. and for
this forum of accessibility, this thread of connection for those of us so
keenly interested in life, death and love. Thank You, Robert.

long life, good health

nobody for president-'96
martin fierro for vice pres.(chutup)

9-12 well,methinks there's an all clear for sendage... but first, one more anecdote:
some youngsters turned me on to the blind melon cd about two years back,
the first song reached out and grabbed me and never let go for the entire
cd. something vaguely familiar there and most assuredly dynamic. purchased
the cd and listen still with great enthusiasm. saw them live in an all ages
club in seattle last fall about two weeks before hoon's death. i'm in my
forties, my date was in her early twenties, and there were more than a few
fans my daughter's age,14. Being forty in number only, i was eager to see
if these boys could produce the goods live. turns out, best music of the
night was some recorded vintage stevie wonder from approx. 72-73...we were
the only ones dancing but the shroooms said that was the thing to do. well,
melon came on and hoon was obviously quite high, what a captivating stage
performer...cross between david byrne and david bowie gone very far out of
bounds. unfortunately, the sincerity of his presentation of the material
was completely obscured by an awful sound system, which to my chagrin, the
entire band seemed to enjoy!!! loud, distorted, very undifferentiated,
highly energetic, yes, healing and purifying...not hardly. so disappointing
from a group with oodles of musical talent. after 25 some odd years (and
that's an understatement) of gd and zero and the deep healing of crystal
clear sound, i was sorely tempted to go up there and smack em upside the
head and say, hey, clean it up so i can hear you and i just might come and
see you again. my ears had an obnoxious ringing for quite some time after
that show! for generational perspective, my date was non plussed, also.
tickled, however, to hear that you, too, picked up on the creativity of
this band. just finished the creem interview from the archives.

Days Between last song together? how fitting...deep church, very spooky,
Terrapin/Stella Blue turning yourself inside out.

i'm a bit out of the loop up here in the upper skagit! do you still perform
in seattle? would love to see you's been too long.

zero ventured, zero gained

long as your letter is, there's no waste space in it, and you say a lot of things I dig hearing spoken about, especially about Blind Melon. Did you ask a question? I forget. Here's apoem I wrote for Shannon Hoon.

For Shannon

Listening to your 1st record.
Just wrote to your widow:
Be strong for your child
but not too strong
or you turn to stone.
"Why am I even here?"
you sing. You found out,
married Lisa, went into
detox when you knew
Nico Blue was coming,
called full of hope the
crazy days were behind,
their lessons learned.
"Gonna be a father now!"
She's here, you're gone.

"and on the day I die,
Thank God my soul
will be released"
you sing now, as
though this record
is part of a big plot.
Funny how lyrics
say it all as soon
as the singers die.
Funny how no one
hears it till they do.

I don't know how you died,
only just heard you did but
I bet it's the usual way folks
who play 250 gigs a year do.

If you're not willing to die for
your record, there's someone
else willing to die for theirs,
top of the charts game where
you end up pissing on cops
from atop a bus in Vancouver
while no one gets the message
that pop music eats its young
and it's all a Goddamn shame.

Missed your gig last week.
Now I kick myself thinking
maybe something I could
have said might have made
a difference ­p;­p; maybe, but
for how long? Guilt, like rain,
falls unbidden. You're gone.

Track 12 on the CD sticks,
playing the same phrase
over and over and over ­p;­p;
It makes an amazingly
complex polyrhythm
without beginning or end.
Rest in peace, young friend.


Date: Sep 12 1996 8:25 AM EDT
From: (Charles Medes)

Dear Mr. Hunter,

I have just stepped in to find my wife gleaming with delight after
receiving a return letter from you. I would like to say that I have a great
deal of respect for a man in your position who will take the time to share
thoughts, in writing, with the people who admire him the most. I understand
that you are equally as human as any one writing you, as I am sure you
realize the legions of people who see you as an inspiration. With that in
mind I would like to say thank you.

Also, I would like to add that the future is very bright for us all, I
believe. Though things have changed, I would not venture to say they are
for the worse. If nothing else, we are ready to expand our horisons on a
much more global scale. I view the past 11 years of my life as a kind of
training or conditioning period. Before the Dead, I was a very naieve
little boy, but now I feel as if I have enough life diversity to progress
in leaps and bounds, hurdling over the hordes of pointless obstructions
that in the past would have held me back.

So for now I will play my guitar, and keep on keeping on with the vision
and goal of peace through music in the forefront. It has been my
observation that music is the only thing our society can use as a common
bond. Everyone has a tune they want to dance to, every one of us likes to
hear a song!

ps, I have a band in South Carolina, and would greatly like to play a
couple of your songs live. I can assure you that we do not want to make
money off of them, It just seems as if playing them makes thing seem a
little bit better than they were before! Rest assured though that we will
not play them if you do not want us to. Our set list is about 90%
original, but we, and the crowd really enjoy a good ol' Grateful tune once
in a while.

Chuck Medes

play the songs all you want and good luck to you. There's nothing gives me more pleasure than knowing those songs are continuing their lives in other peoples' hands and bands. All we can offer you now is tapes. The songs want to go out and be part of a living good time. Go for it.

Subj: Aloha
Date: Sep 12 1996 6:46 AM EDT
From: (Chris Hecht)

Just read the 9.1.96 mailbag and thought I'd dive into the current of
ideas, my thoughts expanding, ascending from the depths of other levels of
consciousness. I took note of your references on scuba: Getting underwater
is my way of accessing the spirit world w/out ingesting alterants.
(Nitrogen narcosis doesn't hit me 'till 110' or so.) Part of it is the
somatic effect, I feel myself caressed by the sweet hand of the Mother. I
think another motor which drives my paradigm shift is the overwhelming
reminder of my puniness in the Vast Cosmic Scale o' ThingsÅ when I'm
floating around at 60'.

I try to get under water as much as possible. I've noticed that the more I
dive the less I'm interested in chemical alterants of any kind. Have you
noticed this effect? In the late '80s and early '90s, grossed out that JG
was such a slave to junk, I wished that he'd just chuck it all and go
diving forever. My simplistic reasoning was that with intense exposure to
the beauty and weightlessness of the underwater world, he might be able to
be done with the dark side. Alas....

I used the term "weightless" above. I chose that word carefully, and
notice you used it also in your description of JG in the ocean. I believe
it was our expectations, criticisms, deifications, and mythic creations
which weighted the man down, and cast a gloss of beauty upon what I regard
as junk. To be weightless, alone, in the ocean, is to strip down and throw
off one's burden, if only for a moment.

I've become a scuba instructor just to further my diving habit. As luck
would have it, as a present for completing my training a fellow instructor
gave me JG's old dive skin, the one he wore for the pix in People and on
the HJK Eternity Blue photo. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I always
tried to honor the guy by not engaging in hero worship. One day I may
actually put it on and dive in, but for now it hangs with the rest of my

Getting back to the mailbag, I've got to take exception to your "hate the
pusher" stance. It smacks (sorry) of a cop-out, and release from personal
responsibility for our own actions. Do you also hate the drug? Seems like
JG loved the shit. Maybe we should also, for it gave him release from a
torture he couldn't or wouldn't endure. Nah. I spent too many shows
irritated at the guy for nodding out on stage. But really, he chose. He
was responsible, not some supplier.

Enough about that, already. Happy sleep noises from the family beckon me
to shift to a more horizontal mode of reality. Thanks for the thoughts,
and the opportunity to respond.


perhaps you're right about my damning the pusher but YES, I hate the drug because it fucked my life over so bad, via my friends, without my even enjoying whatever the pleasures of taking it happened to be. Watching all human feelings die from the sidelines. Being excluded from creative participation because neither a junkie nor an "enabler." Of course, I can't be the judge of the pain that drives people to use, but I do believe that without the pusher's club, the opportunity doesn't generally present itself. That's a big generality, of course. If I've offended any junkies, please eat my shorts!
Yeah, being underwater in gear equates with no other experience I know. I went diving with two whales swimming alongside me once and didn't even know it until I got back on the boat. All I saw was the guys on the boat jumping up and down and pointing. Couldn't figure what it was about as I swam back to the distant boat in choppy seas and was too tired to care. My diving experiences with Jerry were the only time I felt in touch with my cantankerous old friend in a decade and a half. I treasure that. Wrote our last songs on that trip.

Date: Sep 12 1996 10:47 AM EDT
From: (David L Kemper)

Nice to hear from you. Thank you for looking at my site, and for the
kind words. By the way I've always felt that your words are the reason
the gd enjoys such meaningful and deeply felt devotion from its fans.
Jerry always said that without you he'd have nothing to say! strange
here was this man with the most to say about everything but felt he
had nothing to sing about.

Thanks..David Kemper

Note: David was the drummer for the Garcia Band for 10 years. Check out his art gallery and see another aspect of his talent. His stuff is well painted and warmly comic.

Date: Sep 12 1996 7:05 AM EDT
Subj: London

Dear Sir,

May I reply to the posting from 7stringed Turkish lute player SpaceGoats-confidant and ongoing Counter-Cultural Commentor Matthew Watkins.

Matthew wrote describing the London 'street party' which closed the A41 extension & congested most of the Westway in both directions in July.

The '7000 beautiful people grooving on each others energies' & drilling holes in the road surface' did rather interfere with the grooves of many other types & classes of person - including (from my direct acquaintance) NHS staff trying to get to St. Charles in Ladbroke Grove, BBC employees trying to reach the TV Centre & perfectly ordinary private citizens delayed for ages when they were in a hurry to score.

Discussions of 'Freedom' only begin to get interesting when legitimate freedoms compete for the same space.

Matthew mentions that "Someone even managed to make two big holes in the motorway (with pneumatic drills, drowned out by the soundsystems) and plant a couple of trees!"

I can't help wondering whether this is the best place to plant them ?

The 'boundaries' may well be 'dissolving' but it sounds as though the assembled
"punky/dub/folk/ethno/Techno-trance/tribal/everything" would have benefited from the presence of a less dissolute botanist/gardener/tree-surgeon.

Myself, I'm -terrifically- in favour of trees but I *do* prefer not to find them growing in the centre lane of motorways. Bad for me, bad for the car, and surely not -that- much fun for the tree ?

John Perry

(John Perry was lead guitarist of "The Only Ones," an underground band of legendary proportions who are probably more famous now than in their own time. I once gave him Garcia's red Gibson SG, the American Beauty guitar, which Jerry gave me, because John was the only one around who could really play it right. Someone stole it from his car trunk, to his everlasting sorrow. Maybe that's why he's so crabby!)

Subj: Walking the cliffs
Date: Sep 5 1996 4:40 AM EDT
From: (Don Defenderfer)


I was walking the cliffs at Lands End during the Gulf War and this little
chant (below) came to me. The bombing of the last few days has reminded me
of it for the first time since. Now I walk the cliffs of Tasmania, singing
once again. Too bad I can't sing. Hopeless. Next life perhaps.

If I could sing
I'd be a great singer
If I could throw horseshoes
I'd throw a ringer

I have just discovered your journals today. And all the letters you get -
you have taken on the world! You poor man.

I have to run now but will check in again. If you are ever down this way,
drop in. Back gates always open.


Don D.

January 1991
St Agnes, England

Every Mother Knows

Far across the sea
The war goes on
I lie here with my baby
I hope it don't last long

The guns they bark and bite
Brave young soldiers fight
I hold my love in my arms
I hope it don't last long

They say today one hundred died
No mention of the women who cried
I sing my child a little song
I hope it don't last long

Every mother knows
Every death is another son
Every mother hopes
Today wont bring her one

Every mother knows
Every war is wrong
Every mother prays
That this one wont last long

Come, walk with me by the sea
Hold me
Child come along
I hope it don't last long

There's thunder in the sky
Mother earth sighs
Oil slicks and bombs
I hope it don't last long

Far across the sea
The war goes on
I lie here with my baby
I hope it don't last long

(By Don Defenderfer)


thanks for the song.
Taking on the world?
I wonder what you mean.
Something gives me
a flood of energy
I did not have before.
I look for some way
to use it so that
when I hit the hay
I don't lie there
wondering what
I could have said
I didn't say -
plagued with insomnia.

Subj: Re: 9/5 task of the land
Date: Sep 6 1996 8:24 PM EDT


>Taking on the world?
>I wonder what you mean.

I think I meant that you have allowed anyone in the world the opportunity
to interact with you, to converse and to create with your muse. And so,
what a challenge and opportunity. Good on you.

I'm fascinated by muses. Sometimes it all comes together and magic seems
to happen - perfect rhymes, coincidences, meeting people at just that
moment when it could be no other moment. That sort of thing. A state of

My muse appears somewhere between endless travel and compulsive
homebodyness. Between transcience and foundation.

Right now homebodyness calls, Rowena says its time to make a bonfire and
burn off winter and bring on spring. Yes it is spring down here. So we
will make a fire and burn a small mountain of prunings that have piled up
over the year. Something symbolic in this task of the land.

Keeping close to the land, this is my bridge to commonsense and sanity.

Time to light the fire.



throw on a handful for me. Rowena of Green Mansions?
You sound like one lucky shipwrecked sailor.


Progress report:

Lucky sailor indeed. She brought me back from the loneliest of coasts. You
can't imagine - or perhaps you can. I was falling into the stars at night
with nothing to redeem. I awoke one day and was sitting by a fire and
there she appeared.

"What book are you reading?" were her first words and there has been no
looking back since - these things happen.

Rowena of Dumfries to be exact.

The bonfire. It has been burning all day and glows now into the night. We
fed it and fed it. So much excess hoarded away, now gone, flaming in the
dark. It is such a deep pleasure to rid oneself of excess.

We worked hard until Vaughen the neighbor (the french polisher) invited us
to lunch. The day was growing gray so Sally (his wife) brought out
champagne and lunch turned into hours of talk and tales.

Margot the yoga teacher was there too and the women talked about the
education system and all the governement cutbacks here on the island and
how the teachers don't treat kids as individuals and the kids rebel and
just want to go to the mainland to have a look around and so it goes.
Familiar chat round the world.

We got back to the fire just in time.

Hannah the six year old asked, "Is smoke clouds?" as the smoke flew
up into the air. I was at a loss for words.

Anyway. I shall throw a handful onto the fire for you before sleep. I
truly will.

The rain slides down, peaceful, sure of itself.

Thanks for your thoughts.


and thanks for the handful of ashes in Tasmania by proxie. Another internet first. Tell Hannah that smoke is a byproduct of combustion in which the part of things which cannot be burned by the fire rise to the sky. Clouds do not rise, they drift until they bump into each other hard enough to make rain which falls and extinguishes fire. She'll understand.


[Archives] [Index]