Most Appropriate

"The Grateful Dead played a lot of 'free', often spontaneous, concerts in the Haight-Ashbury years-though the term 'free' seems somehow inappropriate given the band's ethos and the general zeitgeist of the time and place.

This show is remembered most fondly of all, largely because it has become regarded as the band's goodbye to the Haight, and because, after the ravages of the summer of love, magic could still happen. The concert came about after a nasty dust-up between hippies and cops two weeks earlier. Hoping to ease the tensions, the city proclaimed a 'street festival' for March 3, with the streets of Haight closed to traffic. It was an opportunity the band wasn't about to pass up. Playing atop a flatbed truck with the power tapped from Strait Theatre, the boys kicked off with 'Viola Lee Blues' and as the first notes crackled, the people began to gather until the streets (and stoops, and roof tops) were packed."

~ A passage from the book Grateful Dead The Illustrated Trip

And now for the show: March 3, 1968.


From Where I Stand

Just existing in America. Not going forward, not back, just standing still. Road blocks at every turn and there is no light at the end of this endless tunnel. Can someone please end this tunnel or do I have to do it myself? A generations worth of prose on the tongue but no ears to listen, no one willing too hear what we all know to be true but refuse to confront. We have forgotten how to hear the clarion call of LIFE. We accept cheap imitations, shadows of the original. Hopes deferred until WHAT!?? What are we deferring until? Until life hands you a golden goose egg, until the heavens open up and a deluge of dreams and wishes come true rain down upon your weary and waiting head?


O.K., wait, I know what it is. I missed some critical speech the other 307 million of you tuned in to, right? It’s my fault, I know. I don’t have a television and I missed it. Would someone please tell me WHAT THE FUCK that message said? Must have been some powerful shit to put the whole 307 million of you in a deaf, dumb and blind stupor.

This life is killing me. This country is destroying my spirit. Wearing me down like a river over stone. I look into the eyes of Americans everyday and see a crushed people, a people enslaved to a system that cares nothing, NOTHING, for them nor their best interests.

America will not cease to exist by forces from without its borders, it will die a slow and sad death by what happens from within them. We’ve no need to fear those that hate us abroad as it is our own self-hatred that will eventually do us in.

I know no one, self included, wants to read this. No one wants to hear this. We want to believe that a country so many once immigrated to is still a great place to be born, a great place to live and a great place to be from. But from where I stand (and believe me, the ground I stand on is shaky at best) all I can see is what I have written above.

What about you? What do you see from where you’re standing? Or have you even stopped to think about what you are seeing all around you?


Dark Harbor

I can hear it coming long before it reaches these shores. Blowing its mournful horn through the foggy recesses of my thoughts. This ship sails into the minds harbor and stays for quite some time, finding safe passage through the brighter moments only to put off mooring for exactly the right time and place.

The time and place is now. Where it goes when it’s not docked here I know not, I only know when it is coming (and rarely when it will be going). It brings with it a darkness I have come to recognize but will never grow fond of. There are lessons to be learned in this darkness, I just sometimes wish they could be learned in the light as well.

This gently rocking vessel drains me, exhausts me, destroys the me I like best in an attempt to keep things in balance. Yet it leaves me in tact just the same (but never the same as before it came). I do not think it will kill me, at least not by itself alone.

Fear and Self Loathing are its cargo, Doubt and Insecurity its freight. There will be beauty again; there will be laughter and song and dance in its proper turn. Now it is a different time, a turning of day to night. You cannot always live in the light, as the darkness helps to remind us of just how beautiful the light can be.

So now the time has come, to let the dark mantle descend.


Black and White

I found it at a yard sale, maybe a month or so back, just sitting on a table with a bunch of other junk. It wasn’t in a frame, only glued to a piece of weather stained cardboard that was curling at the edges. This old black and white picture had seen better days and today was not one of them. It had water damage on the top half but not enough so as to ruin the photo entirely, just partly.

But all of this was not relevant information when it came to the point of purchase. I knew I would buy it, trading in one hard earned quarter to posses this small moment of local history preserved for the ages.

The photographer stands on a small hill overlooking the logging camp. From the hill you can see a team of six horses; black, white, then back to black again. Big, strong quarter horses. Horses bred for relieving these tree-laden hillsides of their heavy wooden burdens. The horses are harnessed to a wagon, which is attached to another wagon. The wagons are loaded with lumber cut into planks. A man sits atop the first wagon holding the reigns in his hands. He wears a cap and a winter coat. To his right is a wooden shed with a chimney pipe sticking out of its metal roof.

Behind the wagon he sits atop is an old Ford. Not a model T but something similar to it in style. The vehicle is the period marker. The Ford is not alone, though, as another rests on its four rubber tires not too far away. Behind the motorcars is a wall of cut and stacked planks, planks waiting to be loaded onto the two wagons with the six horses and the one driver. A large stand-alone chimney rises up from behind these planks, issuing forth a plume of white smoke that dissolves into the water stain at the top of the frame.

And where there are two cars there are also two men. The other man stands away from the wagon and away from the cars. He holds nothing in his hands and seems to be looking up at the cameraman wondering just what exactly he should be doing with the moment at hand. He is smaller in size than the man leading the team and wears a different kind of hat. It’s hard to tell but his skin seems to have a much darker complexion than that of his counterpart. I don’t know the logging history of the Pacific Northwest in the early 1900’s well enough to determine whether or not this man could be Native.

And then there’s the forest. Ah yes, the forest! The whole reason these men and horses and cars and smoke are all here. The trees are there, silently watching this whole scene unfold, quietly thankful that they are too small to be of any real worth.

Sometimes I bike around this old logging town, trying to imagine just what it might have looked like a century or so ago. I have found a few of the “old” trees left behind. The ones that for some reason were unmolested and allowed to continue their heavenward expansion. They are magnificent testaments to what once was. Within less than a half-mile of my house are two huge, red trunked wonders. In the Giant Sequoia family if I am correct. Sometimes I just stand beneath their bows and listen closely for the stories they are telling.

And listen you should, because they are telling stories like you’ve never heard. Stories different than the ones I know, different than the ones I can tell you here and now. Different in stature and height, stories with roots growing down into the earth, into the soil. Tales sent on the wind or the wing of a bird passing by.

Time may not be eternal, but the stories they tell me are.