Grateful Dead

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marye's picture
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Joined: May 26 2007

A lot of us wouldn't be here if we didn't expect this scene to be going on in some form long after we're gone. But what are the good, the bad, and the ugly examples of passing the message that we've seen along the way?

Like a lot of folks, I was pretty blown away by the recent Alpine night at the movies, which, of course, wouldn't have existed if the band and a whole lot of other people had not seen fit to get the show recorded in multiple media in excellent fashion back in the day, to say nothing of a great deal of intervening technical and business infrastructure.

More than most bands, this one, along with its fans, seems to have been aware pretty much from the beginning that something important was going on and had a tendency to document everything. Which, of course, is a good thing for those who come along later, because they have a larger pool of stuff to work with--they can see more, hear more, and get a much better idea of what the whole experience was really like. It won't be the same as actually going to a show and seeing Jer, but what is?

But there are always tradeoffs. Cue the guy complaining in the Grateful Dead Movie. And however swell the New Year's video with the Pepto Bismol pink cake looks, let's just say I recall blazing white lights at crucial moments for the sake of the video as a a painfully memorable part of the NYE experience that year. And who among us has not dealt with some really arrogant taper with an attitude of major entitlement because he's preserving the show for posterity?

When is it better to just live in the moment?

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marye's picture
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Joined: May 26 2007
This may have been mentioned elsewhere

But there's a very good (and long) article in the New Yorker here that ran a few weeks back concerning the band and its legacy, recorded and otherwise, and sparked quite a few discussions in various quarters. Check it out!

marye's picture
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Joined: May 26 2007
check out Blair's blog

for some great philosophizing about tapers, and great tales from the taper world.

Thread is here.

marye's picture
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Joined: May 26 2007
and yet

how grateful we are now for the people who recorded the stuff, and how unfortunate all the youngsters (of whatever age) would be if they hadn't...

My perspective on this is admittedly a little odd. Back in the day when I was in grad school, I specialized in a period known as the 12th Century Renaissance, which, one could make a case, represented a period not wholly unlike the '60s. There was a story I was going to translate from the Middle High German for my dissertation, which I never did because I realized if I didn't I wouldn't have to be an academic and that was a good thing, but it's a great story, and it exists because TWO MANUSCRIPTS (which, of course, in that time really were manuscripts, with minor differences) survive. And the guy starts off by introducing himself and explaining why he wrote the story and hoping that if you like it you'll say a prayer for his soul--and while I really seriously doubt that it ever entered the man's mind that nearly a millennium later somebody would be reading his story, in the original, and getting a kick out of it, such is indeed the case. Indeed, one of the reasons I turned into a interviewer was frustration that I couldn't interview this guy.

And from my first Dead show I expected no less to happen with this. I don't think we know what it's going to look like, and it's the stuff of science fiction (cue that deathless library scene from the Foundation trilogy) how they'll access it and deal with it, but I think it's pretty certain that the Grateful Dead will outlast us all.

Mike Edwards's picture
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Joined: Jun 17 2007
The guy complaining in the GD Movie

He's one of my favorite parts of the film, if only because of the guy who counters the complainer by yelling, "Saint Stephen!" When is it better to just live in the moment? Always, I would think, and especially when I'm thinking about things that happened in the past.

marye's picture
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Joined: May 26 2007
In retrospect, of course

who cares about the annoying lights in the '80s. But at the time, it was so hilariously unlike what actually happened at a Grateful Dead concert that it was downright unnerving, however technically necessary!

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The Tradeoffs of Cultural Transmission