Now... Where Were We?
Well, we’ve been pretty much right here — that is, wherever “here” might happen to be at any given moment in this strange, still-pretty-new world of gathering ‘round the virtual hearth. It’s just that for a little while, we’ve been partially obscured behind scaffolding and drop cloth, waiting for the dust to settle and the din of hammer and nail to subside.
But now we’re back (from wherever it is we’ve been) with the newest wrinkle (and at our age, there are new wrinkles all the time) in the long-running circuit of communication connecting the Grateful Dead and its multifarious offspring to the wonderful community of friends old and new who proudly call themselves Dead Heads (although newcomers, skeptics and curiosity seekers are, of course, welcome to dip a toe in and see if the water’s to your liking as well).
Here we continue and extend a tradition that started almost at the very beginnings of the Grateful Dead itself, when some friends of the band started the first Grateful Dead Fan Club in 1967; it picked up steam with the “Dead Freaks Unite!” message that went out with the 1971 “Skull and Roses” album, inspiring signups for a mailing list that would eventually number in the hundreds of thousands; continued over the following decades with the newsletters and sample discs from Grateful Dead/Round Records; the messages on the GD telephone hotlines; the huge volumes of mail orders (often decorated with dazzling Dead Head artwork) that would flood the Grateful Dead Ticket Service office when a new tour was announced; and most recently found expression in The Grateful Dead Almanac, established in 1993 and published three times a year until the print edition went on an indefinite hiatus at the end of 2005.
Now we pick up the conversation yet again. And while we wouldn’t rule out the occasional hard-copy communiqué turning up in your old-world mailbox every once in a while, we believe the digital domain is the way to go as our primary informational avenue for a wide variety of reasons, including ecology, economy, efficiency and, above all, timeliness. For all the joys of putting together the print Almanac, there was often the frustration, given our deadlines and production schedule, of putting out news that was old by the time it got to your house, or of having a hot story break just after the ink was dry on the latest edition. Here that won’t be a problem… whenever something momentous happens in the world of the Dead, or in the endeavors of its alumni, we’ll strive to let you know about it as soon as we do. Even as we stay on top of the breaking news, we will, mindful of the fact that we have 40-plus years of history at our disposal, also take the opportunity to bring you rare gems from our past, both visual and aural (as archivist David Lemieux has already started doing with the “Tapers’ Section” feature, which beautifully illuminates yet another great advantage of this medium: access to the thing that matters most — the music itself).
We’ll be continuing such vitally important components of the Almanac as our Community News, which will keep you posted on the good works being done by individuals and organizations who strive to make our world a healthier, cleaner, better-educated and more peaceful place.
We’re just getting started, and will be adding new features, fun and surprises all the time. This, like the Grateful Dead’s musical and social universe, will be an ongoing work-in-progress, so we encourage you to mark this spot and visit often.
And finally, in the “Now is the test of the boomerang” department… we encourage you to help us shape this space, just as Dead Heads have always done, with your own input, suggestions, dreams, etc. Let us know what you’d like to see and hear, and we’ll do what we can to incorporate the best of your ideas. The Bus is ready to roll again, and we need all the intrepid navigators we can find.Furthur!
Gary Lambert, for the dead.net team