Monday, May 29, 2006

good ol' Grateful Dead...

sitting here in the first wave of the coming summer heat, drinking wine and pecking away aimlessly at the typewriter. nothing immortal yet, thought I'd take a moment to post something The Girl and I were watching/listening to earlier today. here is the video. it is Jerry and the Dead on Hugh Hefner's 'Playboy After Dark' from 1969. we were struck by a number of things (not the least of which is the obvious fun the band is having in the midst of such strange surroundings) but mostly the fact that this is 1969, and the height of Vietnam is raging in the far east. an ugly war full of misery and death, war protests rocking the country, Woodstock in the offing, Nixon and the Hell's Angels and the popularization of the so-called 'hippie' lifestyle, whatever that was/is. a truly unique time in our history, as HST noted, a time when "the wave broke and rolled back." and in the middle of it all, the band is concerned with the creation of music; with the making of ART. this is a facet of the Dead's organization that I've always appreciated: their unwillingness to make noise about their personal politics. they never did political benefits (maybe one or two), they never lent their name to causes (other than purely social causes, such as via the Rex Foundation they started, and etc.), they decided early on to let their music say whatever needed saying.

I plan on letting my poetry do this for me.

much like jazz, the Dead are a purely American anomaly, something that could only exist here, that could only grow out of the convergence of American musical styles, culture, hell, the drugs (after all, it was the CIA's project in Palo Alto that tested LSD on willing subjects such as Ken Kesey, Robert Hunter and others that helped spread the whole thing in the first place, building on an existing desire in the subculture to explore the mind, the "doors of perception," etc.), the literary movement of the Beats, and many other factors. their music is a vast exploration of the universe, as well as a comfortable talk on the front porch with a wise old friend.

enjoy my favorite band at the peak of their weirdness, just before settling down somewhat and composing the American masterpieces "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty" (sometimes called "American Reality").

I hope you explore the music (and the scene) furthur.


Blogger Luis said...

Let the word speak for itself.
That's the same way I feel, Chris.
Art was being created in those
turbulent times, as it is and can
be now. Too bad my connection is
so slow, I can't enjoy that Dead
video on tube tv. It just takes
so damn long. It's a restless
night tonight, I think I'll go
write, my friend, or read something
that could light a spark.

6:55 AM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

luis, I hope your night is filled with poems and quiet, with peace and reflection. thanks for your comments, I am glad to know this forum exists for our continued communication. sorry about your connection, the video is pretty cool, jerry is wearing a long green striped western poncho with his beard and crazy hair and he is surrounded by slick hepcats in shiny suits and ladies in sleek dresses carrying martinis and cosmopolitans. the dichotomy is startling, and he is smiling and the band is having a blast.

it is important that we never lose sight of the fact that ART helps define us more than our savagery, that creation is inifinitely better than destruction. that we are capable of more than bared teeth and clenched fist: we are capable of beauty and dreams.

1:54 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

"we are capable of beauty and dreams."

if i lived by any credo, this would be it.

it's simple, it's a call for hope and sometimes, when things turn out just right, it is also true.

4:07 PM  
Blogger christopher cunningham said...

thanks j.b for the kind words as always, glad my lines reverberate with you.

and the ability to dream that is rapidly being destroyed in our society by the television, etc., the ability to IMAGINE that ebbs and drifts away as we are remanded to IMAGES ONLY and reading is eliminated and thought is replaced by soundbyte or surface perception,
these things cannot be replaced easily.

it is a struggle to maintain that ability to dream something greater than this, all of this, all of this misery and waste, all of this loss and hopelessness, all of this empty satisfaction, all of this banality, all of this fragile comfort.

but that is the battle we must fight.

4:29 PM  
Blogger j.b said...

here here.

i hate it. i HATE that this is the battle we must fight. i fucking HATE IT!

but, it's true. this is the battle we must fight. Galileo had to fight the ignorance of the Inquisition. Copernicus, too, had to fight the church. Intellectuals of the Dark Ages had to fight against a culture lauding ignorance and lack of knowledge (sound familiar?).

we, too, have our fight. ours is more insidious, though, i think because our fight is against those who know better (or should) but prefer to remain ignorant, or prefer to demand ignorance.

i will not be ignorant.
i will dream.
i am Lazarus, and i will rise from this filth and live again.

2:17 PM  
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