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A Switch magazine article on the Grateful Dead Part III

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From: tsuzuki@adobe.COM (Taro Tsuzuki)
Subject: SWITCH - Part 3
Keywords: SWITCH
Date: 14 Aug 91 02:19:58 GMT

This is the Part 3 of the Grateful Dead article in a Japanese magazine called SWITCH. There will be one more part to this one. I hope you enjoy reading.



III. Hightime Paradigm of the '90s

"Keep moving, keep being high, Give everything you got!" - Neil Cassidy

At the Dead show, it is very easy to meet new friends, even if you lost your friends in the crowd. Like the Dead themselves embraced, Dylan and Ry Cooder of course, and from Los Lobos, Nevil, Branford to Hamza El Din, Kitaro..... anybody from different types of music, with their big-boned skeleton arms and blossom their musical friendship, their fans are also the same. At the venue, there are so many with wonderful smiles who are able to easily slip into your heart even in the first encounter. Harvey is one of them. He found me, after I lost my seat as I lost myself in music, and was wondering around, and kindly offered me a great seat next to him. The seat was right by the section which was reserved for the family of the Dead's members. "This great seat?..... It's like seats for distinguished guests!" He returned his smile to me delighted with his offer, and pointed his finger to in front of his seat. Folded there was a wheel chair..... "Broke my leg in skiing. But thanks to this immovable leg, I can come into venues before anybody. It's a great feeling to be in an empty hall wondering what kind of show I am going to be listening to today and what kind of new friends I am gonna be meeting!" On his T-shirt which he claims that he made himself, it reads, "Who are the Grateful Dead and why are they keep following me?" Is THIS the guy who showed up in the "Questions to the band" segment of the New Year's Show which was televised as a special program two years ago and made a big joke asking this question and made all the members of the Dead laugh so hard? He must be the guy! [Well, we all know the phrase, pal]

While joking around saying, "See, I am the 'chairman' of all Dead Friends' committee," he offers wine to girls in neighboring seats and offers me an apple as if he knew the state of my stomach, winks at the smoky group behind us... He was like a dude born by adding Harpo Marx and Neil Cassidy and divided by two. "Aren't you doing any drugs?" I attempted a question that took me a bit of courage. Then his expression becomes a little serious. "Well, strangely, when I jumped too much and injured my leg coincided with the time Garcia was taken to a hospital and went into coma. I was laying on bed just thinking, maybe he and I both made a mistake in looking for high. I mean, you can get high in the world of all by yourself, but if you disregarded everybody else, maybe it's not the real high. Even you think you get high dancing with an angel, from others, you might be playing with the devil." Harvey now looks at me with calm, clear eyes. "We all want to be one of shining cells in this cosmos, man..... Until then, other members of the Dead didn't interrupt each of personal business, but for the first time then, they went to Garcia and asked, 'The band or heroin?' That could be a lot to take for Garcia, too, I think. 'Cause, can you think of the Dead without him? On the other hand, it was their way of expressing their love for him. From that time on, Garcia's, the Dead's, my, and our new era began." "I will survive, I will survive....". From "Touch of Gray" that went to the top-10 for the first time in 25 years. I remembered Garcia's strong smile singing the tune in their video which appeared on MTV.

"This is my new high." He said and what he took out of his pocket was a nothing-unusual pebble. "My friend found this and brought back to me. Touch it. You can hear the song of 30000 years of crystallizing..... All the small people who are stuck in the maze that they created will..." "Get 'stoned', right?" "That's it, amigo."

Every time they got stuck in a maze and chaos, they open the door, call in the power of other travelers and form a new magnetic field without fear or hesitation - this must be the psychedelic physics that this band has been inheriting ever since the Acid Test. No, I feel sorry for those who still tend to speak of the Dead as far and good memories of the '60s, but the dynamic footprints of this group is already beyond such words of psychedelics. On the other hand, their positive power, their free-spirited attitude with which they take their own initiative without being instructed by anyone, their spirits are concerned with what are important not only for themselves but also more and many human beings - these have not changed at all. If we are to talk about the stance in this area, their current position is far more powerful than that in the "Hippie Era". Because of continuing military expansion policy by the Republican government with Reagan and Bush, the educational budget was rapidly cut.

Responding to the request by the mayor of San Francisco, the Dead stood in time of crisis for hometown public schools, held a charity concert, and contributed music instrument and athletic equipment. For homeless people, for American Indians, from Greenpeace, Red Cross, Anti-nuclear - from social issues, racial issues in the nation of America, to the issues of environmental destruction that the whole world in the '80s and the '90s faces, this rock group relates to them with sincerity beyond that of hundreds of politicians, holding charity concerts for help, and asking for people's attention. In 1990, Jerry, Bobby, and Mickey went into the United Nations and the Congress, appealing the danger in destruction of the rainforests representing American citizens (Mickey Hart during this year demanded, "if book paper is made by cutting down trees, replace the trees" at the time of his publication contract and made an innovative contract with his publisher called "Tree Plus Method"). All of these three men once were the proud dropouts who said good-bye in the middle of high schools!

As if attracted by the light of new scene created by them and the young generations who gather around them, wherever the Dead goes, those who once used to share the light began to show up in backstage. That is exactly what Bob Weir calls Misfit Power Party, the scene of the outcasts. Ken Kesey who sensationally debuted with his maiden work "Over The Cuckoo's Nest", immediately stayed away from conservative literal scene based on the East, got on the bus along with "Mountain Girl" (Garcia's current wife) and "Speed Limit" (Neil Cassidy!), and went out to the trip of new experiment of consciousness. "It was the government of this country and CIA who sold me my first LSD! It was a joke busting only me, wasn't it?" "Even after you went into the farm in Oregon, the Dead is still experimenting. You can be at rest and retire," replying jokingly is "Dr. LSD", Timothy Leary, who also was attracted by the same "Magic Drug", and because of it, was expelled from his Harvard professor position. Richard Alpert was also expelled from the university with Leary, campaigned for the mind expanding drug in all America. Still unsatisfied, he traveled to India, came back with a changed name, Baba Lam Das [sp.], and released a bestseller book "Be Here Now" describing his unusual experiences, and started the Spiritual Movement of the '70s. He is currently active as a member of a charity organization called Seva Foundation, which is financially supported by the Dead, besides his lecture and writing activities. And the Gonzo journalist, Hunter Thompson, who introduced the famous outlaws bike gang, Hells Angels, to Kesey and the Dead, and was the culprit in contributing to make the "freak scene" in the Bay Area, which was called "WEIRD!" by the general grown-ups, become more weird. His writings, obtaining the space on the then-new-born musical, young generation's cultural magazine, Rolling Stone by convincing its chief editor Jan Wenner [sp.], and attacked the "American Dream" and corruption of the politicians with bad-mouthed, clear-cut, machine-gun style, were well accepted and cheered by the youth of the '70s with enthusiasm.

FBI's raid of Hunter's farm in Colorado for "dangerous element hunt" took place just in the last year, perhaps driven by fear of the words that Kesey screamed on the Dead's stage few years ago saying "Hunter for President!" and the power of these reborn anti-system rebels. But he was innocent in the trial. Gaining momentum, Leary, Kesey, and Hunter met at the Dead's show in Oregon, got on the newly painted second psychedelic bus, and headed with high spirit to New York for the campaign of Kesey's upcoming new book. The other big man, who was criticized as "he chickened out!" by these ever merry middle-aged freaks and did not show up despite of an invitation, was Tom Wolf. His new journalism reportage "Electric Cool Aid Acid Test", released in '68 and let the world know of Kesey and the Pranksters' tales of their trip, is a super long bestseller that has accumulated 31 reprints to this day.

The big stars of the '60s who appear in tonight's backstage party are, of course Wavy Gravy, who creates waves of laughter in the room of Dead Family's children before the youth of the 21st century, and the chemistry genius, Stanley Owsley who threw the children of the '60s into the whirl of "Hallucinogenic Revolution" by creating the legendary ultra drug, "Owsley Acid" which is said to be the purest of all with nothing to compare before and after. Wavy was once a friend of late-Lenny Bruce and Dylan, started his career as a hip comedian, and was the hippie leader who prepared large amount of food and cried out "TOGETHER!" at Woodstock. Now dedicating all he has to the community service in Berkeley, he is the best quality essence of the '60s spirit. Owsley was the man who assisted the Dead as a patron/sound engineer during the Haight era and influenced in various ways. In January 1967, at the first tribal festival Human Be-In with the beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg and Gary Schneider reading poetry, and San Francisco All Stars such as Dead, Jefferson, Quick Silver performing music, it is said that psychedelic sandwiches for several thousand people were prepared and distributed to attending young people according to his idea.

There is also Rock Medical Clinic, established by military doctors who came back from Viet Nam and joined such young people, currently appearing at all rock concerts in California such as Dead shows and other shows promoted by Bill Graham, providing free counseling for people in needs for help with bad trips, injury, and heat. Young doctors and medical students from Stanford heard the rumor, and just for fun of it, they stick their heads into the hallway to see a glimpse of the man of legend, Owsley. But his figure, despite of his nickname "Bear", has no wrinkles, no excessive fat, with a face with no expression, beyond age and emotion, and with a charismatic figure surrounded by an aurora like a snake..... One of them lets out after one glance, "Oooooooh shit." Then the young doctors went back, giggling, to their positions in their tent. The legend is as the legend is, today's groove is as today's high groove is - behind the circus tent where as if the Dead's long trip was condensed, the youth of the past, present, and the future encounter and go in separate ways.


Coming soon: Part IV "Seeking the Far, Undescribable Light"
[whatever the hell this means.....]
NOTE: Part IV is still a missing treasure, sorry.

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