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?