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13 November 2003 @ 10:18 am
Time Machine  

The first installment of the coolest time machine ever just arrived.

Y'see, back in the late '70s I was travelling around the country, staying with fen and working temp and seeing different cities and people sort of thing. So in 1978, right around this time of year … hmmm … wait … it must have been shortly after Thanksgiving … anyway, I arrived in San Francisco. Stayed with (then it was) Gary & Denise Mattingly.

Soon after I arrived, on a Saturday, I believe, after the banks had closed in any case, it was announced that the Grateful Dead would be playing the closing of Winterland on New Year's Eve, and that, the venue being small and the demand being large, they'd be selling tickets (for … gosh, I can't exactly remember now … $20 each? $30 each? Something amazingly expensive like that, limit mumble per customer) Sunday only they wouldn't really be actual tickets they'd be, like, kind of a lottery whereby after all the tickets had been sold, there'd be a drawing, and the one-out-of-five-or-so lucky ones would be holding actual tickets, and the other four-out-of-five-or-so would be holding refund coupons with which they could get their money back. Although, actually, the whole "lottery" thing didn't really make any difference to me, since — and this was in the Dark Ages, remember, before cash machines — I didn't have that much cash on me. Nor did Gary or Denise. So I couldn't even buy a chance.

Of course, the tickets sold out in a few hours. *sigh* Then came the exciting news: the concert would be simulcast on KQED TV and KSAN radio!!! Cor! I could still sort of catch it, even if I wasn't right there. It was at this point that I made a seriously — I mean seriously — stupid and erroneous assumption: I assumed that Gary & Denise owned a TV. I mean, I knew they had a totally up-to-date component stereo system. They must have a TV somewhere around. So comes mid-day on December 31, and I casually ask where the TV is. Which is how I discover, now that there's really no time to make any other arrangement, that I'll be able to listen to the concert, but won't be able to see it.

A few hours later, I discovered my second serious error. I'd forgotten to purchase a nice reel or two of recording tape, so I couldn't record the show on Gary's lovely reel-to-reel machine to hear again and again and again…

</p>Well. I (actually, we) did get to hear the concert. And it was … it was … it was … brilliant … amazing … wonderful … You know. Like that. So, you know, despite everything, it was really quite worth experiencing. (Besides, it meant that, as a kind of bonus, for many years I was one of the few sighted people in the world who had heard the Flying Karamazov Brothers but had never seen them, since they were on the radio during one of the set breaks. Hup! "There's more to theatre than repetition!")</p>

Years (?) later, a set of bootleg LP's showed up, but I was in the wrong place and the wrong time for that too. (Fortunately, Linda Ann Moss was kind enough to let me tape her copy, so I wasn't totally without a reminder of how swell the show had been.)

And, from time to time I'd think, you know, gee, that concert was simulcast for goodness sake! Somebody, even in those far gone days when consumer electronics were only in the hands of the elite few, must have made a video tape of the whole affair. On, what?, 1/4" tape? After all, this was The Grateful Dead, simulcast in San-effing-Francicso, for good-golly-miss-molly's sake. When might some of it surface?

So yesterday there arrived at our house, after almost — figure this out with me now — after almost 25 years, a four-CD set containing the sounds I heard lo these many years ago in Gary & Denise's living room in their apartment just off the corner of Haight and Divisidaro. And, within the next few days, there'll arrive a DVD containing the audio and visual portions of our pictmission. I will place this amazing Time Machine into the player, sit back, and finally see, coming to me through space and time, this fantastic concert for which I was once in the right city at the right time but in the wrong building.

I don't think that "Ramble On Rose" was on the bootleg. Wheeeeeeeoooo. It is crisp. It only just keeps getting better.

Kind of tickles the ol' Sense o' Wonder don't it?

Current Mood: ecstaticecstatic
Current Music: Grateful Dead: The Closing Of Winterland - December 31, 1978
Pigletporcinea on November 13th, 2003 08:31 am (UTC)
Indeed it do.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter Mark IV by Reed Wallerfredcritter on November 13th, 2003 05:23 pm (UTC)
Skylarker: whispersskylarker on November 13th, 2003 11:07 am (UTC)
What a treat from the past!
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter Mark IV by Reed Wallerfredcritter on November 13th, 2003 05:19 pm (UTC)
the laughing leaping waterminnehaha on November 13th, 2003 02:16 pm (UTC)
Geez, I kinda want to come over and watch it, too.

Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter Mark IV by Reed Wallerfredcritter on November 13th, 2003 05:18 pm (UTC)
It can be arranged, it can. Keep in mind that they played from a little past midnight (in accordance with the law "it's the New Year when Bill [Graham] says it's the New Year")* until 6:30am. Subtracting two hours of break time, that's four and a half hours of music. Might have to be an all-nighter…

Hmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmm … I just had an idea. I needs to check with Susan and see if we can't get the house in order … naw, it'd never work … but … hmmmmm … it will be the 25th anniversary after all … Nope. Can't be done. Oh well …

*Glenn Lambert, liner notes: "It's All Over Now," CD: The Closing of Winterland - December 31, 1978, Grateful Dead Records, Novato CA, 2003.
the laughing leaping waterminnehaha on November 13th, 2003 03:06 pm (UTC)

Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter Mark IV by Reed Wallerfredcritter on November 13th, 2003 05:21 pm (UTC)
Positively frozen, yes.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Me&Cheech sidefredcritter on November 13th, 2003 06:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, I forgot to mention, since they're not included on the CD or DVD — the front acts, before midnight, were the New Riders of the Purple Sage, followed by the Blues Brothers (John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in their Jake and Elwood personae, fronting a great band including Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and a young Paul Shaffer).* So the whole concert/evening ran like ten or twelve hours! Holy dearly-departed, Batman!

And that somebody (the credits indicate it might have been Matthew Kelly or Lee Oskar) played some positively kick-*ss harp on some of the Dead's numbers.

(You how I'm sometimes called Fred "Every Song" A "Closer" Levy Haskell? Well, guess where I picked up that inclination?)

Here's the final kicker: The Grateful Dead ended the show with Dark Star > The Other One > Dark Star > Wharf Rat > St. Stephen > Good Lovin'. Then as a little you know encore at like 6:15 am they kicked into a smokin' rendition of Casey Jones. As that was wrapping up with, you know, the thunderous final repeated slowing-down "this is the end kids" chords and the was crowd jumping up and down in time and screaming, what should come rising up out of the fire and ashes but the dazzling intro riff of Johnny B. Goode!! "Dis!" it seemed to proclaim, "Dis is what it's all about! Dis is Rock 'n' Roll!"

For a second encore, and so as to let people come back down gently, they closed with We Bid You Goodnight.

*CD liner notes.
Peter Hentgesjbru on November 13th, 2003 11:50 pm (UTC)
That sounds amazingly cool, Fred! You positively bubble!

You shall have to report of the coolness of the DVD when it arrives.

And, you know...I have this 5-disc DVD player. And my living room can be made reasonably comfortable for those what don't mind dog and cat fur.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Me&Cheech 1fredcritter on November 14th, 2003 12:58 am (UTC)
After work last night I ran a quick errand, came home and read for an hour, took Gavi to school, came home, put disc 1 of the CD into the Mac, and then wrote that. If I was bubbling, I was bubbling through the crisp. (I really hate how long it took to write. It was toward the end of disc 2 when I finished. Hmmmm. Maybe I'd done some LJ replies first. Can it really have taken over two hours? Well, yeah, I guess it could have.)

My assumption is that the DVD cannot be anything but of the maximum coolness, but I will certainly report. After all, it will be a sight for sore eyes. As it were.

Thanks for the offer, but … um … while I don't really mind dog and cat hair, I am allergic to it, which would probably put a crimp in my evening. I'll just have to redouble my efforts to get our house straightened up enough to have company. And then maybe have a small group of interested intimates over for a viewing.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Me&Cheech 2fredcritter on November 14th, 2003 01:06 am (UTC)
Oh yeah and it came with a really cool T-shirt too. So I've got the old saying going: missed the concert but heard the broadcast, got the CD, got the DVD, got the T-shirt…. The Mouse/Kelly blue rose for the closing of Winterland poster (used for the T-shirt) has always been one of my very favorite bits of Grateful Dead iconography.
Kristenluckydragongirl on November 16th, 2003 02:59 pm (UTC)
My boyfriend just got that show. It is wonderful. (I'm the one who kept asking you about the Dead at Merrill.)
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter Mark IV by Reed Wallerfredcritter on November 17th, 2003 06:19 am (UTC)
Yes, isn't it just? You can see hear why I had that "been waiting 25 years" feeling about it. (Oh yes, I remember you. You were wearing a Phish shirt when we chatted at length. Hi!)
A monstrous ramblingbibliofile on December 7th, 2003 03:51 pm (UTC)
PBS update
And now it's been excerpted, interleaving songs with interviews, into a pledge drive special. The songs they played sounded good, though.