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replies to "Letter to Garcia" . . . and a few others

Date: Aug 11 1996 3:06 AM EDT
From: (Chris and Lynn Cage)


Thank you so much. Not only for the beautiful letter to Jerry, but for all
the words you have graced us with. Being an artist myself, your words have
inspired and stimulated me. i have long felt the Dead to have a place in
"Americana". I was only turned on to the Dead around 84 but as I grew and
my musical experiences grew, I realized how much the Dead were a folk band.

Ya'll created a new type of folk music which is very american and yet

Through the years I have uncovered more and more of the folk music
references that you use in your lyrics. Each time excites me and makes me
want to learn about the original material. Hell, most of the songs I can
play on guitar are folk songs and a good portion of those I found through
the dead. i would never have picked Lady of Carlisle out of my folk
singers wordbook if it wasnt for Terrapin.

Your works continue to inspire me. The Grateful Dead were made of many
souls each one contributing a facet to that wondourous gem. Yes Jerry had
an immeasurable impact on us, but PigPen left a hole that has never been
replaced. The Rythym Devils opened a love in my heart for the spirit of
the drum that will be with me forever. Every member of the band has given
me something. Some more than others to be sure, but when I go back and
listen again I hear someone I hadnt heard quite as well before.

There so much I could say its hard to know where to stop. You are one man
and not the band, but I feel you are a connection to that energy.

I saw my first show at Manor Downs outside of Austin TX in 85. The Dead
didnt come back the next year, but you did. I believed you played at the
continental club. I loved it. Hearing the songs played the way you played
them was wonderful.

I grew up in a household where music was a very important part of our life.
My mother opened me to many forms of music early on. But as I left the
nest, the Dead more than anyone else have opened me to so many wordly forms of music.

I will never be able to measure the effects ya'll have had on my life.

The Furthur Fest came to St. Louis and my wife and I loved it. We had a
wonderful time and met some good people. A young man, 14-15, started
talking to me towards the end of the show. We had had a whole afternoon
and evening of diverse and exceptionl acts. Ratdog was on and he tells me
he is disappointed because its not "the Dead" and he never got to see the
Dead. His Dad had brought him and dad's first show was in '68 (the year I
was born). Well of course it wasn't the Dead but I explained to him from my
point of view that the show was very successful. The beautiful thing was
he asked his dad if I could take him down with the dancers. So we went
down into the twirling throngs and i got him right into the spirit of
things. Myself Im not a very inhibited dancer especially around a bunch of
deadheads. Well this kid got right into it. Wide eyed and soakin it all
in. He was amazed how we would bump into each other, smile, and keep on
dancing. Like a soft "mosh pit". Anyway when the show was over this kid,
Zac was his name I think, had a smile on his face. And even though it
wasn't "The Dead" I think he got a good taste of what it was all about.

So thank you Robert Hunter and thanks to all the members of the Dead and
all the Deadheads who keep smilin. On this night when at least two clubs
in St. Louis are doing Jerry tributes, I cant help but think of all who
were and still are on this long strange trip.

"Who can stop what must arrive now?
Something new is waiting to be born"

Lets all go for that gold ring down inside,



my old manager, Chesley Millikin, went on to manage Manor Downs and was responsible for the band playing there. The place was owned by "Loose" Bruce Baxter, the "After Bathing at Baxter's" Bruce.

I remember the Continental Club well. The dressing room was the the managers tiny crowded office that opened right onto the main room. But talk about audiences, Texas's got 'em!

Thanks for a full, fat letter.

Date: Aug 10 1996 9:20 AM EDT
From: SingMiller
Subj: They were angels

Dear Robert,

I was channel surfing the other day and happened to run into a documentary on John Coltrane on Bravo. I was excited about it, having listened to Trane a lot but never having seen video of him. It was a great program! Besides having video of him & his band playing, there were interviews of people who had played with him. I think it was his pianist, McCoy Tyner, who at one point said that he had been convinced that Coltrane was more than human, he was an angel. He was sent to us having been given an extra measure of that special something, that spirituality that we all have, but most of us never figure out how to use or even that it's there. I was deeply touched by these comments, because they expressed the very same thoughts I myself had some 25 years ago when I was discovering Coltrane and another musician that I put in that category, namely our friend Jerry Garcia. These guys were Creations that were gifts to us, those who were open enough to receive them. Jerry will always be a part of me, having never in fact met him, having only seen him play some dozen times (but that's a dozen more than I ever saw Coltrane!). I still listen to his recorded music and think about him daily.

Do we all have the same capacity as these guys, only in some different sense? That's the question we struggle with all our lives. What is our purpose here? How can we give the most to our fellow humans while at the same time receiving the most of what we ourselves need? (These two things are undoubtedly the same thing, if we can just discover it.) I'm not wired the same as Garcia, clearly, and although I have some talent in music I cannot create tunes nor do I have the patience for developing the chops it takes to produce music worthy of others' time and attention. In other talents, too, I seem to be stuck in mediocrity -- this, despite being middle-aged and having a professional position of some status. But I struggle on, being stopped most often by my inability to deal with people that put challenges in my path. I so envy these guys for having found and developed this musical expression that touched people as they touched me! And yet, I know that they carried great burdens, for they didn't ask to be wired the way they were, and they didn't seek to be anyone's angels. But they were, they came here and touched us, and left us wondering.

I am not and will not forget, too, Robert, that it was you who provided the words to all those great tunes. You have such a great talent, and you were the perfect companion for Jerry. I only wish you well in your future endeavors, and I want to thank you for all you've given me.

Much love and best wishes,



thank you and I wish you well too.
Angels? I'd have to think . . .
If you want a wildly different view of Coltrane, I suggest Quincey Troupe's incredible "as told to" biography "Mile's Speaks." Check it out before you elect JC to the angel band. It might be more to the point to wonder at the music that poured forth from mere mortals on the edge.

Date: Aug 10 1996 2:27 PM EDT

Mr. Hunter: I thoroughly enjoyed the year long summation of events regarding jer's death. I have been following your career with as much fervor as i did the deads. Please rainbow on. Many of us want your brilliant support. TOUR MORE! Ill pay top buck for a show. You would have made furthur top notch. You are the lost pirate in this scheme. I am happy for this new forum for all of us to meet. I also am mind blown by your McKenna missives. WWWhhhhaaaaaa??????? yours under eternity TOMBANJO4

Remember the Peter Principal? Someone who is thoroughly competent in his job will be promoted to a level at which he is utterly inefficient. There are many fine musicians in the rock field, but us writers are a little more rare. I'd rather burn at the typewriter than burn out on the road. My health is not good and motivation to perform is lacking. In short, I've found my niche. And I have lots of examples to show me that my choice is probably not unwise. But thanks for asking.

Subj: More paper to feed the sheep with
Date: Aug 10 1996 2:32 AM EDT
From: (Marc Schuler)

Let's open the way I'll probably end this, with a thank you. For
what is probably best left vague, or else I'll go on forever and
never get to anything else. Perhaps best stated by saying thank
you for what you've shared of your soul in the past, present, and

Sitting here listening to the local radio station in Atlanta, I'll
even give their name (Z93) because they been extraordinarilly kind
for the past year. They've been sponsering and organizing deadhead
gatherings in town, playing the deadhour, bootleg tapes, and
supporting and introducing local bands to all of us. This evening
(Aug. 9 and 10) they are on all night playing live dead tapes in
honor and memory of the occasion. If anyone who reads this is in
Atlanta, either residing or passing through, then look up one of
their monthly gatherings.

Between listening to that and browsing through the web page, I'm
half writing, half-listening, half-pacing, half-talking to myself
through a lot of thoughts, most unclear and jumbled, perhaps that's
why I come back to the keyboard to give them some chance of letting them compose themselves.

In many ways I do feel that Jerry's passing has been the equivalent
of having a crutch kicked out from under me. It led to my falling
flat on my face the day it happened. And a bit of staggering
around for a while thereafter. But slowly I'm learning to walk
without it, and if I can still walk then I can surely dance.
Somehow, I think that in the end I might be stronger for being
without it. That doesn't mean that sometimes still I don't lose my
balance, stagger and out of habit look to catch myself with that
which is not there. Jerry, and Robert, and the Dead, and the
Deadheads are all a part of my soul, far too deep to the core to
consider severing it now. They've helped shape far to much of what
I believe in, how I look at the world, and what I consider
wonderful and beautiful in it. ......Somebody just played Cosmic
Charlie, boy, hadn't heard that in a while.........In a large way,
the largest part of the crutch that I was leaning on was to count
on going to a Dead show to meet the kind people there. Somehow I
could stagger through a life with few good friends and remarkably
little love knowing that I'd be going to another show and that I'd
be seeing people there, people who were kind, people who would be
a friend for a while. Somehow a year ago I knew that I was going to
have to get by without that, that I was going to have to do a
better job of getting out and meeting people, of making friends.
Can't say its perfect yet, probably never will be, but its better
than it was a year or two ago. In so many other ways I also know
that its up to me now. So much of my artistic tendancies had been
quietly forgotten and dropped in favor of an engineering career.
Not from any conscious decision to do so, just from the daily
pressures of time. But now with the crutch gone, I know that its
up to me, to try to find a way to express what I know and feel.
You boys in the band (and Robert, you were always much closer to it
than most of the rest of us, so forgive us if we include you as a
member no matter what the reality, its just a matter of
perspective) always did such a wonderful job of presenting a vision
of the world that was different than the corporate one, and so
creative and inviting, that the rest of us could just point people
to a Dead show, and count on the experience to convert them if they
were willing to be converted. Now somehow I feel the
responsibility, or the urge, or whatever you decide to call it, to
try to reach my own talents to try to express this vision of the
world that the Dead helped me to see. And you know, when I let my
vision expand, let my imagination picture what I'm thinking about
this and feeling going through all of the deadheads around the
world, that's when I can picture Jerry's passing not as the end of
an era, but the beginning of a rebirth of the flame that the Dead had
carried alone through the last few decades.

Peace, and keep writing, always keep writing, or at least whenever
the spirit moves you, never feel that its an obligation.


PS, did I gather from passing comments that you've been involved
with writing lyrics for Mystery Box? If so, thanks again, for I
was highly impressed. I saw what was basically the same set from
them three times as I helped christen the good ship Further and
helped escort it at least as far as the Virginia line. I enjoyed
each more than the one before, which for me is a high compliment I
can pay in that neither the music nor the lyrics became old
with repetition but instead became deeper, richer and more
engrossing with exposure. Thanks
Marc C. Schuler
Atlanta, GA

Mystery Box, si. I think, hope, it addresses the kind of things you speak of. Transition.

I wonder how much of what you speak of is due to losing your GD "crutch," and how much just comes naturally, at a certain stage in life, as many of the open ended possibilities of youth begin to slip out of reach. Fishing is an answer for some. I took up kayaking. Some kind of a peaceful center is necessary. Not preaching here or even offering advice. Just musing. Nothing wrong with the celebratory center, the grand band bang, so long as it isn't granted more importance in life than it should have. Part of my job is helping construct the celebration, so it's a very different thing to me than it is to you. But I wouldn't want it to be taken for more than it is - a diversion, a meeting place, a memory to take along with you - but certainly not the focus of anyone's life in the way the Grateful Dead managed to be for some. Perhaps without Jerry's magnetic presence, the show will be what a show should be, a gratification and a gathering, without being what it cannot be: a dependable center for existence itself. Maybe it's not the rebirth of the old flame we have to look forward to, so much as the welling up of a stream to slake your thirst, wash your feet, splash around in, and move on refreshed. Just a thought.

Subj: opening the Box
Date: Aug 8 1996 5:34 AM EDT
From: (Tyler Hart)

The Mystery Box, that's a hoot for sure. First, some quick takes on
Further in general:

The Gorge Ampitheater in George, Washington is a truly magical spot.
Steeply sloped ex-vinyard terraces down to a stage backing out onto a
promontory above the Columbia Gorge, several hundred feet of multicolored
sandstone sculpture descending to the river. Rolling hills confuse the
eye's understanding of distance by their softly fractal nature: big and far
away, or little and real close? Only the cloud shadows give it away.
Sunsets that would cause your digital camera to expire in ecstacy; as an
inveterate meddler in visual media I attempted to keep track of the number
of different hues & values evident simultaneously in that sky and failed
rather dramatically. Even the venue staff was helpful and friendly, though
Domino's Pizza is not my idea of nourishing in-show refreshment.

Oh, that's right, there was a show...well, for the first and most important
thing, it confirmed what I had suspected, expected and hoped for: we are
alive, and doing as well as can be expected after only a year. That's the
"we" who are the Grateful Dead now, of course. There weren't *quite* enough
heads together to kick the pressure up to that really fierce level, where
That Which Remembers That It Is Itself wakes up fully and lovingly eats all
the individuals...but the tendrils of it were there. I understand it awoke
fully in Veneta, but I was working with RockMed during the meat of that
show and missed it, grumble mumble bitch gripe moan. Folks tell of it
dancing at Shoreline as well.

Musically? Jorma seems to have undergone a rebirth; he runs onstage and
plays his ass off every single time he gets the slightest chance. Jack
thunders on. Los Lobos make hundreds if not thousands of converts at every
show; their slow-down space moment during Bertha seems to 'get' everyone
hard. A.Y. Hart is subtle- you better be paying attention or you'll miss
the fact that he's doing some *weird shit* up there. JWHarding is
hysterical and true; his cover of "I Wanna Be Sedated" had the 200 or so
people at the Gorge who recognized the tune going apeshit, and left the
rest a bit confused. The FKBs are, well, the FKBs. You know.

A quick note: this is about to turn into one of those excruciatingly
intricate missives that you're afraid are starting to scare off the folk
without berserko intellectual axes to grind. Perhaps a segregated mailbag
is in order?

Mystery Box rules. My hat is off to you. Wait, I'm not wearing a hat- let
me go get one. There. Now it's off again. See?

Now, I have this whole fun thing in my head, this giant bundle of "meaning"
derived from listening to & toying with the songs from Mystery Box. Rather
than ask, Did you (or Mickey) intend any of this, I'm just going to lay it
out for you, thinking you might find some interest in what one of your
works looks like after being spun through someone else's subjective spaces.

Most broadly: the rebirth of meaning out of deconstructed entropy, or the
survival of the evolutionary force in the face of death, or a refutation of
postmodernist downward levelling. I see the set of songs as the elements of
a system for creating an extremely large number of overall stories/meanings
through permuting the songs into different orders; a number of stories
which becomes infinite when viewed in the universe of continuously changing

Obviously, the song that keyed all this in me was _John Cage Is Dead_,
which made me scream with joy when I figured out what it was you were
saying (seemed to be saying to me...I'm gonna stop mentioning that I know
my interpretations are personal, the disclaimers interrupt the flow). A
slap in the face of the Form Destroyer! And then "Faith may be madness but
doubt is insane"...fuck yeah!

If the beauty and meaning of life is found through our love for each other
and our creative works, then we must be able to defend the reality of those
notions against the creeping disintegrations so ably wielded by the
rational nihilists who unfortunately shape so much of our postmodern
reality. It's true that, within their logical systems, we cannot "prove"
that love exists, or that beauty is a real thing, or that a million-color
Gorge sunset is better in any way than a monotone Los Angeles fadeaway. So
what? It's like trying to evaluate poetry with a ruler, or scoring a
samadhi experience by football rules-"Well Jim he may have seemed to
explode into formless bliss but the replay shows that the ball didn't cross
the goal line so what's it worth if no six points?". If I've had the
experience, I have decided that I will trust the internal value of that
experience. I understand that that is a leap of faith. I've lived the other
way too, and it sucks, with no redeeming features except a sort of
vainglorious Luciferesque pride in being willing to torture oneself rather
than bow to any master, even one from within one's own heart...I'll pass
now, thanks.

So, we've been playing with the Mystery Box, as sort of a ten-sided Rubik's
Cube of divergent and convergent meanings. Some combinations fail to
produce any startling new light, due to lack of appropriate context or
simply because every massively complex system is bound to break down at
some points (John Cage isn't the type to die- he's always there, at the
edges, waiting, and if we stop building bulwarks against him he'll start
creeping back in). Any chaos freak will tell you that trying to forsee the
future actions of a ten-element system is utterly beyond anyone's
predictive capability; that's what makes it fun to play with, the
surprises, including the ones that kinda just go THUD. The good ones are
really, really good, though...

We were lucky enough at the Gorge to have Mickey perform _Sangre De
Cristo_, right after _John Cage_ actually. In the setting I described to
you at the beginning of this letter it became the single most, well,
transcendant moment I have yet been fortunate enough to experience. Truly.
They talk about the "specious present", the amount of time the human mind
perceives as a single Now; normally this is between 5 and 12 seconds. For
myself and three others who became one in blessed communion during this
song, that present dilated to the length of of the song, several minutes.
Give us this moment, indeed.

Rereading the last paragraph, I am embarassed to realize how completely
words fail to describe that experience. Yet listening to the song, or
singing the underlying chant, or just thinking about it in the right way
can return me to that stretching moment of bliss in an almost physical way.
So once again, the magic succeeds, independent of the restrictions of

So: congratulations on what seems to me to be your most successful complete
body of related work since _American Beauty_; of course, I haven't heard
the completed Terrapin suite...oh that's right, I already bugged you once
about that. And thank you, so much, for at the very least providing a
beautiful poetic platform upon which I've been able to unfold these rather
pressing notions. Or, if any of this is remotely related to your artistic
intentions, thank you for providing one of the most powerful and
precise tools yet in the ongoing war against the destroyers of beauty. It's
a tough trick, to understand the power of deconstructive tools, to use
them, and yet to refute utterly those who carry them to savage extremes.
Gives me a lot of hope.

Unfortunately, the naked guy crashing through the drumset at that
particular show was Bobby. Now, I've seen Ratdog before, and I know they're
capable of being a pretty goddamn kickass band, but not that
night...*snooze*. Oh well. I admire the hell out of Bob for the amount of
energy he's put into keeping things rolling, and I really, really
appreciate the sacrifices involved, and it pisses me off when folks crack
on him for not being Jerry...I mean, you think he doesn't fucking know
that!?! Hunter, have you heard him sing that new song of his _Shoulda Had
Been Me_? Jeee-zus...he's trying *so* damn hard, and a lot of us truly love
him for that. I'm worried that he only hears the naysayers.

So, my total take on Further? Well...I really miss the Big Noise in the middle.
That's one thing that was missing that doesn't necessarily have to be;
hopefully, Phil will eventually decide he wants to go BWWWWAAAAOOOOUUUWWWW
some more (or however you'd transliterate his damn atomic whalesong noises-
I considered typing in the hundred-letter thunder word from _Finnegan's
Wake_ but decided that this missive is to extensive by far already), since
with The Man having stepped out it's pretty much him & Mick remaining as
the serious purveyors of dissonant beauty.

I really liked the unpretentious vibe of the whole thing, though. It felt
like the underlying message was: We know it ain't a Dead show. Get over it.
We miss him too. This is the best we can do in less than a year of picking
up the pieces, and it ain't too damn shabby, is it?

I'm sure the scene will shrink a *lot* in the next few years. A bunch of
folks will likely lose their financial shirts, too. Seems necessary &
inevitable to me. We need to coalesce into strong families and tribes, to
spend a few years getting our shit together. Almost everyone that drops
away will be someone we can do without in the long run, though, I
think...and those that are left, we can be more sure of. Clean off the
leeches, slackers, vampires and biography writers; lose some of that
blinding spotlight glare. Become strong and mature
as a tribe of tribes...

And we'll know the next step when it comes.

yours in weirdness, fun, and sadness-


Yes, YES, YES!!! That's exactly what I meant! To be this thoroughly understood even once in a lifetime is more than I expected. Damned if it isn't. In that case, I can get back to work. Namasté.

Date: Jul 29 1996 10:58 PM EDT

Howdy Hunter:

Finally ran in place fast enough to find a little time. So, I began to read your journal while watching the Olympics. Yeah, the net is a big and potentially powerful place, but you are right that there has not been that much worth finding. Your concept of a place to let the continuing exercise of misfitism unfold among those who enjoy it seems to be about right. Let the words flow and don't worry about going over the top - that is often where you find the golden yummies.

Some thoughts on the Further Festival. I went to SPAC and Great Woods. A longtime fellow traveler went to Hartford (Meadows). Especially at SPAC I had a wonderful time so many folks that I only see at the shows and the musical energy was very high. When Mickey finished his set, we were all blown away by how powerful the combination of sweet voices and feet moving rhthym can be. It felt like there was mucho potential to go out there - just a matter of time. Interestingly, my fellow travelor friend did not experience the new version of nirvana. He was disappointed in some nameless way. I think I can put a name to it. Futile anticipation. Why do folks so desperately crave to recreate that which was special and unique? Well, I guess that is reason enough, but after all, one piece may be dead, but we're not! I say let's go furthur. I loved Great Woods as well, with most of the guys coming up with a completely different set, Tuna and Lobos better than SPAC and Mystery Box and Rat Dog not quite as good. I hope they come back to my neighbohood again. Fun in the sun.

It is a singular pleasure to have the opportunity to communicate with you, made even more so by the fact that I don't need a stamp or to worry if the post office is open. I've been more an observer on the web than participant due to the old 2400 modem I was limited to. However, the kids (17, 15 & 8) grew weary of that and now we are a 28.8 family. It certainly makes the whole thing much more reasonable.

I'll be heading off to the gathering planned for Northfield Mount Herman school in mid-August. It felt like an opportunity not to be missed being so close to home. Since I tend to intellectualize so much about the whole fantastic sociology of the scene, this is right up my alley. Are you still in Scotland?

Anyway, I'll log off, since you must get tons of email from anyone with a random thought in their head. I'll share some of mine, if you've got the time... and I'll look forward to more contact.



well, the tour is over now and things can settle down to the new abnormality. I still have until Sept 1 in the UK but begin to get itchy to get back in the thick of things. Hear the stories. Dream the dream. Walk the walk.

Don't worry about me failing to go over the top. It's about the only thing I know how to do. Congrats on the 28Gbps modem. Mine goes up to 50 some thousand, but it can only get what the line is capable of sending - 28 here, only 9 at home. You'd think - but, no . . .

Date: Aug 9 1996 9:21 AM EDT
From: James_Younan@

Dear Robert ,

I wanted to drop you a line and let you know how very
excellent your web page is. As I sit here at work (facing the Statue
of Liberty's rear end) and read the mailbag and the journal etc.. I
just felt you should know there are people out here who greatly
appreciate all the effort you put into this stuff.
I find it difficult to actually exchange a dialogue with
you, probably due to the fact that for my entire teenage and adult
life I have been a great admirer of your work. This sort of makes it
really heavy to speak with you at this level(if you can relate to
I read the letter to Garcia yesterday and really believe
you should include some kind of warning on something as touching as
that. When I read it I could barley hold back the tears and did not
want to be crying away here at my desk.
I have been reading the news groups and stuff and am
sometimes depressed at what I see. The Bob bashing and all the crap
about Phil and Billy's decision to call it quits for now. I cannot
understand how people can comment on other peoples personal decisions.
I look at this way, if I saw my name posted in a news group with
someone saying hey you made a bad decision with respect to your
careers or whatever I would be like who the fu@# are you to comment on
my life. I guess because the band is in the public eye people think
they can criticize their decisions. Anyway most of us out here are
just keeping the Faith and will continue to do so indefinitely or
longer which ever comes first !
I have often pondered what it's like to be able to say things
other people have felt for eternity but have never been able to put to
words. Maybe one day you could tell me ? You have a great talent
Robert many of us are touched deep down inside by your words !!

" Do lord deliver our kind.... "

Jim Younan


assuming for a moment what modesty (and sanity) must refuse to assume, but assuming, hypothetically, for the sake of argument, that I had such a power as you impute to me " to be able to say things other people have felt for eternity but have never been able to put to words" . . . I would think that it would feel alternately joyful and like a responsibility too heavy to handle. I'd think the bearer of such a responsibility would either submit to be its captive and use him/herself up in discharging the duty that comes with such a scorching talent or choose to duck and run and never dare to look back.

I thank you for your Promethean estimation of my ability and thank the powers that be that it isn't the case. I've been lucky enough to have my material presented in a way compelling enough that many of its shortcomings may be obscured, but the songs, as performed, are a group effort. As I write, the wind from the window blows my curtains so that they strum my guitar.


Date: Aug 11 1996 3:12 PM EDT
From: Luceloosy

Dear Hunter:

Thank you, first of all, for your Letter to Garcia. Lots of folks have mentioned it to me, e-mailed me telling me about it, asking for copies of it, etc., etc. It's getting a lot of circulation. If personal stuff is any of our business, this is the kind most of us are looking for, I think. There's been a lot of discussion about the Rolling Stone article, too - much of it the "I didn't need to know this" kind. On the up side, I tend to think that now is as good a time as any for the "dirt" to come out. If we're going to make Garcia into a saint, let him be a saint with feet of clay that we can all relate to.

I went to three of the Furthur Festivals: The Gorge, at George, WA, Veneta, and Ventura. I had a real good time at all of them. Brender went with me to the Gorge and later flew down and met me in Ventura. Caroline didn't come along - Richard says she's still nervous about being spray-dosed, as she was in Eugene a few years back, and since it was hot, hot, hot at all of these venues, it's probably just as well, because it was spray-bottle heaven, but I truly believe there was nothing in them but water!

Hot Tuna and Los Lobos were, of course, extremely good on all occasions, although I missed them in Veneta. Seven hours is a long time, and since I did all seven at the Gorge and was going to do all seven in Ventura, I wanted to give some of my best energy to Bruce, Mickey and Bobby at Veneta. The between-act-acts didn't do a lot for me, but we used them as a set-break anyway, which is not really fair to them, but they were acts better staged in smaller venues - many people did enjoy them but it must be a hard row to hoe for them, filling up the spaces between the main acts. The horrible truth of the matter, I'm afraid, is that I'm an old-lady-died-in-the-wool-Deadhead, and Bruce, Mickey and Bobby were the ones I really came to see. Fortunately, that wasn't true for everybody, as there are raves for Hot Tuna and Los Lobos and most of the non-Dead material all over the net.

Mystery Box was wonderful, on all three occasions. They'd really gotten the act together since Laguna Seca. I got used to Mickey prowling the stage and finally got down to just enjoying it. I was more familiar with the lyrics, having bought and listened repeatedly to the CD. I have Mystery Box tunes running through my head now, as often as not. "Sito, ta da da da da da, Sito...." as I'm working around the house.

I love watching Bruce - he's very comfortable and easy-going on stage, and the interaction between him and his band is fun to see. Brender and I were talking on the way home from the Gorge and I was musing that it's interesting that the only thing so far that comes close to filling the space left by Garcia's guitar is a piano. I can't hear "Jerry licks" from any other guitar, but I can hear them on Bruce's piano. So, we were thinking, if there is any reincarnation of the band at all, that perhaps Bruce can take that spot. It would take the pressure off any new lead guitarist - s/he can just play, without the pressure of having to be Garcia. We wouldn't be down there with little annoyed frowns on our faces thinking, "Well, *that's* not Jerry." Bruce can do it - he's comfortable with it and it's not threatening. Anyway, just some apres-show musing on our part. I had to laugh in Ventura, though. Bruce came out and did "Aiko" on accordion. I couldn't help but remember the story of Jerry's 16th birthday, when his mother bought him the accordion, and he goes, "Noooooooooo!!!!! I wanna guitar!" I kept imagining him somewhere up there, shaking his head and musing, "Fuck! Shoulda taken them accordion lessons!"

And, I still love Bobby. This is becoming an almost completely non-pc thing to say, but pay me to care! Some of the criticism I've heard is valid - it's time for him to write new songs, get new material. I've heard comparisons with Mickey - Mickey got out there and got creative and worked up new material, etc., etc... What most folks don't seem to realize is that Mickey and you and the rest of the band had been working on this material for over two years already. It's not like Garcia died and Mickey and you went into the studio and came out with a brand new thing in a couple of months. I have no idea why Bobby chooses the songs he chooses to play - most of the songs that he didn't play with the Dead are songs I can't relate to at all, and this is sort of bemusing, because the songs he did play with the Dead - which are *his* songs, are songs I'll love til the end of time. He did "Cassidy" at the Gorge. At Ventura, the "birthday show", he did "Looks Like Rain". I don't remember the set list right now. I'm sure you've got it somewhere there.

A lot of folks are saying that Bobby (and Ratdog) didn't deserve to headline the Festival. I heard a lot of folks saying that that spot should have gone to Mickey. But Brender and I think they're wrong. Mickey's band is wonderful, and they can go out on their own and really whoop it up - be their own headliner. But for this Festival, Bob Weir is the one who can take us almost there again. On the occasions when he was definitely on, he took us into the long spacey jams that definitely started to soar, and when Hornsby came out and joined him for Dead tunes, those jams would take to the skies in the ol-timey way.

Brender was a little askance about this whole enterprise. I had bought two tickets to the shows, in case my friend from Jamaica got here in time, but visa applications are a long drawn-out process and, talking to Brender a few days before the Gorge, he said he might be interested in using that ticket. He had a grand time - was very impressed with the energy and the music, with Mickey and Bobby and everyone. He was so impressed that the following week, as I was standing around in the parking lot at Ventura wondering if I should go in to find my friends yet, I turned around to find him there. He had taken a gambler's junket flight to Reno and used the included rent-a-car to drive down to Ventura. Well, it was Jerry's birthday show, and it was a celebration! There were birthday card signs and people with party hats. The Flying Karamazov Brothers led us all in singing "Happy Birthday" and Bruce came out and did "Black Muddy River". Wasn't a dry eye in the house at that time, but we were all smiling and celebrating at the same time. Bobby did an almost entirely "Dead set", which pleased the hell out of me. Richard said he got the feeling that Weir was really letting some emotion go that night.

Saturday night - the Saturday after I got back - there was a band playing at
the Moon. Three Bricks Shy. Brender had given me a tape of their stuff -
excellent. This woman, June Rushing, sings in a beautiful contralto voice,
and her renditions of Hunter/Garcia songs is wonderful. She makes "Push
Comes to Shove" sound like its being sung in a smoky nightclub by Jessica
Rabbit! I loved it! Still and all, I would have given it a miss, being
rather worn out, but Richard was producing it and Caroline (his Caroline)
would be there and Caroline (my daughter Caroline) turned 21 at midnight, and she was
going to drop by the Moon. The band was great, June and Joren Rushing are
wonderful folks. I even danced for awhile - so did Richard, to Caroline's
amazement! Around about midnight, Richard came over to the band table where
I was sitting and said, "Your daughter is outside the door, awaiting her
majority." I went out to stand with her. A couple of other friends of mine
were there with her. At midnight, bar time, the bartenders called out, "Come
on in!" and she walked into the Blue Moon Tavern to a standing ovation led by
Richard Lee, my ex-boyfriend, who now was calling himself her ex-step-father.
The band broke into "Happy Birthday". Caroline was delighted and
embarrassed, and we stayed until closing and took a cab home.

Richard (Brender) and I, during our drive back from the Gorge, got to talking about songs and songwriters (mostly you) and I told him that, for my money, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Robert Hunter are the most important songwriters of the second half of the 20th century. They are what Gershwin, Cole Porter and Jerome Kern were to the first 50 years. Richard told me that when June Rushing first read your lyrics (and she wasn't a Deadhead, wasn't even really familiar with the songs as sung by the Dead), those were the names she thought of - Gershwin, Porter and Kern. Those are the folks your lyrics made her think of, in terms of song-writing. I think Richard told me that he sent you a tape of their stuff - a little home-made tape. Joren Rushing wrote some music for "Walker After Midnight", and it's on that tape, so if you haven't done so yet, give it a listen. He gives it an Appalachian folk song flavor. That's another one I find going through my head. I hope you like it. I think it's spiffy!

On Friday, we all went down to the Highliner Tavern here in Seattle to hear Kuli Loach do an entirely Dead show. I read the first two pages of a piece I wrote last fall detailing the five days between August 9th and August 14th, when I returned from the Memorial in Seattle. Then, we celebrated! Kuli Loach is great - they have a lot of original material, too, but this was Jerry night. They did a couple of songs from the Jerry Band - "Mission in the Rain" and "Midnight, Moonlight" - they also did "Boys in the Barroom" - a capella, of course. I always wanted to come down to the Blue Moon on Thanksgiving, when we bring lots of turkeys and fixings into the Moon for the folks with nowhere else to go and not much more to eat, and play that song for "grace" before dinner. Haven't done it, though. I always bake pies and make cranberry sauce, but I send 'em down, because I'm cooking here at home for a bunch of people too. Still think it's a great notion.

Finally got my website up. Have my Jamaica essays and the piece I wrote last year about Jerry's death and its effect on me for the first five days or so. If you want to take a peek, its at - just link from there to "Jamaica" or "Good Grief."

I got up Friday morning and went up to my deck, just as I did last year when I got the phone call, and spread my arms out to the sun coming over the Cascades. There were no tears this year. My life is taking interesting new turns, and I still have that music dancing in my head, pointing the way every now and then. "We'll know the next step when it comes." I still see Garcia grinning up there. I can still hear that golden lead line spiralling on along some road somewhere.

Have a glorious rest of August. And thanks again, for everything!

Barbara Stoner

thanks for a great Seattle report. Brender never emails me so I know little. Would you tell him I'm still waiting for the promised English Pal format videotape of "The Wright Brothers" movie? Not only anxious to dig myself acting, but I just love Gregg Lachow's writing and directing to distraction!

Yes, I listened to the June Rushing tape and it was a marvel. She is so sassy, and to hear the songs without a hint of Deadness was a bit of a revelation.

Listen, I could sit here answering your letter point by point, for it is a great one, or I could rush over and see what your homepage looks like. I opt for choice B. Regards to all,

Subj: Synchronicity: Pole Position
Date: Aug 11 1996 5:23 PM EDT
From: (Geoff Wells)

Dear RH,

I'll be brief as to not clutter up the mailbag, but I need to get these
thoughts written before the next event appears. My friend, Cathy Barrows,
suggested that I write you, so here it goes.

After 26 years of enjoying the phenomena known as the Grateful Dead,
I've come to expect some Unusual Occurances In the Desert. We've all
been privileged to experience the small coincedences: the correct predictions
of setlists, parking or sitting next to long lost souls who just happen to have
your lost wallet from 1969, the ever present "miracle" ticket that some unknown
bank teller in your line can't use that night; the Dead dreams we experience,
things like that.

What I'm thinking about are the BIG deals, the Sandstorms of life that alter
the topology, the butterfly effect of chaos that seems to have only random
connotations, but upon closer inspection, reveal a pattern.

Some recent things have occured that have me wondering....

1) Last year in June, I took a friend to Shoreline to see the Dead. He was
not a Deadhead in any sense of the word, but agreed to go on my recommendation
and my fear that he might never have the opportunity again. During set break, a
P-38 Lightning circled the Amphitheater, and my friend commented that his
father had flown one during the war. "He's not well" he told me. A little later,
during second set, the Boys break into a stirring "He's Gone" and my friend
becomes visibly shaken. He leaves to make the phone call, and returns with
the news that his father had passed away about an hour before.

2) In July of this year, I was selected as a juror in a murder trial. The
name is Israel Jerome Garcia. We hear evidence everyday for weeks, and
abruptly on Aug 1, the defense rests and gives us the case. It occurs to me
suddenly that the theme of the day is "I. Jerry Garcia, Aug 1"

3) The topping of the cake.
I had expected to mark Aug 9, 1996 by attending one of the many
memorial anniversary gatherings of Jerry's Death in the Bay Area.
As things turned out, I was unable to do that.
On Thursday Aug 8th I was at my Mothers house and on the TV was the
history of Rock 'n Roll. I was gonna turn the channel to something else, but
she said that she wanted to see it. Of course, there were some Grateful Dead
clips, and some of Jerry, and she commented on his death and how she
hoped that when she died she would go in her sleep too.
Sometime in the early morning hours of Aug 9, 1996, my mother passed
away, in her bed, asleep. She was 78. And it's just like any other day thats
ever been. Except it's not. In hindsight, I should have suspected.

I expect, that my unofficial association with the Dead has colored my
perception and allowed me to associate events concerning the Dead
with events in my life. Still, the coincidence is uncanny, and has always been.
My non-Deadhead associates have no idea what I am talking about when I relate
these stories. My Deadhead friends nod knowingly and relate their own
stories to me. I suspect that you know this already, but add me to the long

Be aware that the passing of the Grateful Dead as a performing band has not
seemed to reduce the synchronicities that I have experienced this year. At this
time though, I feel as though I am in the "pole position".

Comment if you like, or put this letter in the mailbag for others to comment.
I'd like to know about other experiences people have had.

-- Geoffrey Wells

have you read through the "Library of the Uncanny" on my website? If so, you'll realize I'm not a big sceptic about uncanny coincidences. I think that they simply point to areas of interconnection beyond our ken.

There's no outside recourse to validate these things - they're too "unto themselves" peculiar. The problem is that we may feel a need to validate them with others to "check our reality."
And it can't be done. We are thrown back on our own cognitive structure. At best, they excite our sense of mystery and wonderment at the probable open-endedness of the universe.

I would say that your string of occurrences is unusual. Everyone has at least one story to tell, but three in a year must certainly give you pause. I think your own suss that you are in a "synchronicity pole position" is as good an explanation as you're going to get.

Date: Aug 12 1996 12:56 PM EDT
From: 100334.344@CompuServe.COM (bradKLIGERMAN)


Stumbled unwittingly (as is the case with much of what we take as _volition_
when dealing with information on the Net) onto the DeadNet.....and found one of
the best sites on the web. Had time only to browse your journals and print the
letter to JG as I was leaving my be read on a late Sunday night
last-metro ride home. I was alone in the car and sat shaking as I read the
letter......turned around, back to the studio, this time to _read_ your journal
as well download Giant's Harp.....I think that deadNET represents what the web
should be encompassing - -community, spontenaity, cyber-type immediacy
and...well....good stuff......<G>

Was blown away by your writing about _key talks_ between you and
Garcia....though their re-telling is perhaps cathartic for yourself, for me they
help put into perspective and define alot of what I and some of my collegues are
going through in riding our own _tiger_..... the construction of a new <digital>
medium. By putting those memories and conversations within the CONTEXT of
dealing with not only Garcia's death, but also the struggle for the life of your
dreams through the continuing existence of _Grateful Dead_ as a viable social
and business entity, poses an incredibly relevent perspective for alot of us
artists today. I find certain essential connections between the construction
and subsequent unfolding of your dreams that began 30 years ago, and the visions
_we_ are trying to materialize from the bits, pixels and data-sets emanating
from the big-bang of digital convergence. If unwittingly those connections are
being made by your _pencil pushing_ on the Web, I hope you just keep

I look forward to your next posting(s)



you honor me. Though I am far more interested in what I communicate than how, it just so happens that this technology fits my idea of how to say things: fast, immediate and irrevocably. I trust to ye of the tech tribe to build of pixels and bits a battering ram to knock down the door into the next century. There won't be time to knock patiently and offer credentials.

Subj: dull writers/mathematicians
Date: Aug 9 1996 10:29 AM EDT
From: smarcus@hendrix.JCI.TJU.EDU (Sue Marcus)

Mr. Hunter: I have been reading your journal with great enthusiasm, however
I was dismayed to see you group dull writers and mathematicians in your
recent post ("a writer who is too careful about controlling all possible
shades of interpretation is either a dull writer or a mathematician"). As a
mathematician who is interested in the mathematics of music, the I Ching,
and other miracles, I like to think of mathematics as music that not
everyone can hear. Maybe we should link mathematicians with carpenters'
wives? Respectfully, Susie Marcus

oops. Now hold on a minute - grouping and equating are two different things. I was apparently remiss in controlling all possible shades of interpretation. Well, you know, that happens. Obviously I meant that what is appropriate in mathematics is not always appropriate in spontaneous writing, the type of writing that tries to catch things on the fly without pinning them to the paper. And of course, a superb mathematician must do the same thing to conceive a grand hypothesis. But she's obliged to take it several steps further, whereas the writer's work may be done at that point. Did I squirm out of that one or am I still in trouble?



You squirmed out of this one very well. Anyone who refers to a
mathematician as 'she' is on my good side. Thanks for writing back.


Date: Aug 9 1996 8:28 PM EDT
From: RBrennan


I thought about nitpicking all the grammatical mistakes in your
letter to Jerry, just to let you know some people are paying
attention. Instead, I'll tell you how much I appreciate the great
insight provided by your letter.

Just a little ribbing from someone of the current generation. By
current, I mean I was born someplace between the time Coltrane died and the time man first stepped on the moon. Which makes me old enough to recognize the significance of those two occurrences, and the contexts in which they are framed. I'm not sure the compass needle exists only for my generation, it seems many of your generation have lost sight of the goal.

I can truly say I don't know what those bookstore and coffee house days of '60 and '61 were like. My view is through filters. Although,
having dabbled in photography, I know that while a great variety of
filters will produce a great variety of images, there is some truth
in each image and the totality affords a strong perspective of the
whole truth. Is there an objective whole truth? I suspect you
already know the answer to that question. Nevertheless, some of my generation understand the vision. We're just left with the task of sifting through the filters to pull out the clearest images.
Confusion has as much to do with entropy as it has do to with
design. And to be sure, you inherited the vision as much as we

Take heart in the fact that while the trip takes many twists and
turns, it's always heading one direction. We may be a step behind,
but we're following the trail. A dance.


"Sometimes the simple road to the truth is apparent only after
you've taken the hard road"

I'm aware of numerous grammatical errors, I'm a pretty good editor, but the form is conversational monlogue and the run on sentence that starts one place and ends another is speech as she's spoke, not as she's written. I like your tone! Irreverent and quick to defend your cultural demographic. Pride in your generation is so goddamned important. And so lacking in those who feel they are only the heirs to what's already been done.

You'd have to live through the cultural blank of the 50's, have your own self painted pastel there, to understand why the 60's were what they had to be in reaction, and how exciting it was to be at the nucleus of the departure into "modern times." They were the dark ages. Fire wasn't even invented yet, much less the wheel. But I think you have a suitably bleak decade of your own to react to, and must, so you can pontificate to your own juniors in time: "You woulda hadda been there."

Date: Aug 8 1996 10:45 PM EDT
From: Ninemiskd
Subj: some thoughts

Hey Robert,
We met briefly at a place called Harry Hope's in Cary, Il., I guess in the late 70's.
You were playing that night...I think you referred to that tour as "The Last Goddamned Tour Ever". I knew the owners, who usually let me sit by where the performers entered if I wanted. I was a little drunk and approached you after the set.
I told you that your tunes had gotten me through a lot of hard times. You responded that you guessed you wouldn't kill yourself that night.
I just read your letter to Jerry...about how hard it was for him to deal with the icon/star shit when all he wanted was to play the music. Maybe what I should have said back then, and what I feel now, is that your (and Jerry's) tunes were there with me when I was going through all those times, good and bad, and I've gotten through them. They still are, and I still am.
Thanks for the tunes
Jeff Davis

I remember the gig. Don't remember feeling that down, but I do remember not being able to find accomodations and that I ended up bunking at the soundman's house. The sound was pretty good as I recall, and that can make up for a lot. My temper can get pretty short a few weeks into a tour. Since I went out all by my lonesome in those days, there was no one to take care of things if they got fouled up. I'd book a couple of gigs within drving range of one another, then fly on to the next leg. Things were tight in those days and I did it for my living. I'd generally play two shows a night (about 3 hrs solo) and make an average $1500 a night, before expenses. I'd book about a dozen gigs, 3 nights on, one night off, and bring home enough to pay the rent and feed the family while I planned the next tour. So you can see where I might have been coming from.

Date: Aug 12 1996 3:58 PM EDT
From: (Steve Wright)


Just finished digesting some truly heartfelt feedback to your letter to
JG. Thanks for the early update...much needed.

Now that the weekend is passed, I wanted to share an interesting moment
with you (all) from Sunday night.

I had flown a king-sized tye-dyed bed sheet at half-mast from a flag
pole in my back yard. My house is situated on the breaker-wall of a
little cove (fishing village) 20 miles north of Boston. The flag had
been flying for 2 1/2 days, and Sunday night seemed to be the right time
to take her down. As Brokedown played in my head, I drew the flag down
as slow as humanly possible, with the understanding that when she was
down, the weekend was over.

As the flag approached my outstretched hands, a 25 foot (or so) Boston
Whaler, with its engine purring quietly motored by causing the slightest
ripple in an otherwise dead-calm ocean. The owner (probably 50 yards
away) stood in solemn salute, his hand fixed to his own makeshift mast,
on which flew a lonely stealie.

As he continued toward his slip, he was completely silent. I brought
down the flag, folded it a few times, and threw it over my shoulder.

I guess you really never *do* know who's going to bring you a message,

Looking forward to the next update...yeah, yeah, call me greedy...


Date: Aug 8 1996 1:20 AM EDT
From: (McManus, Rich)

Hey Loose Guy! Thanks for the skies, metaphoric and literal. All we have
to do is lift our chins and there is enough imagination, whimsy, variety,
nuance, and constant delightful change to assure us that the Great Architect
is always with us. Such a simple thing, but few talk much about it. So
many times in life it's, "Oh yeah, the sky. Wow!" We take it for granted.

Your delightful diary reminds me of a trip I made to the U.K. and Ireland
some 16 years ago. When you poked around under Arthur's Rock I thought of
myself ducking into the Gallerus Oratory, a "beehive" of stones--ancient
chapel--in the west of Ireland. Kept a pebble from its floor in my jacket
pocket for years, then lost it--had hoped it would keep me spiritually in
tune, like your pocket nail.

Don't know about you but during my 10 weeks abroad I found myself hungering
powerfully for American music. Whenever it came on the radio I realized how
badly I missed it, particularly country music. One of the few regrets of my
trip was that, while drinking with an older Gaelic crowd in Ballyganeen Beg,
out on the Dingle Peninsula, I failed to work up the nerve to "give them a
song," as I was urged. I sat on the barstool smoking Aftons and drinking
the Black, and mulling over the lyrics to Mama Tried. Wish I'd given it at
least a try...

Thanks for staying in touch, and enjoy the rest of vacation. Hope you are
not bothered by this trespass.


trespass? Huh? I also remember drinking the black and smoking "Sweet Aftons" with the picture of Bobby Burns on the box and "Flow gently sweet Afton/Among thy green Braes/ Flow gently, I'll sing thee/ A song in thy praise" written on the box. They don't make cigarettes like that anymore. Silk Cut anyone?

Subj: predicate
Date: Aug 8 1996 1:42 AM EDT
From: (Isaias Ortiz)

Dear Mr. Hunter:
The furthur tour took us furthur into the fractal dimensions of
deadspace. Where do we go from here? you said it best---
The future IS in the unborn rhythm of the smallest, cloudless rain.
Robin (harbinger of spring) Anthony

the future is what tomorrow turned out to be when it's too late to do anything about it. It's what we live for and it never comes. Maybe we should change our gameplan?

Subj: into the woods
Date: Aug 13 1996 1:38 AM EDT
From: (Rob Ryan/Margi Fineran)


just finished your anniversary report -- or should i say it just
finished with me.

As it is very late here in DC, I promised myself only a brief glimpse at
the GD site before dutifully performing the slow and deliberate routine
of turning off lights, bolting down hatches and catching up to my
beloved on the misty road of summer night dreams.

But I felt compelled to read your letter, or report, or entry or however
one categorizes such a "genuine article."

Without wasting too much of your time I would like to convey this
thought - one which pestered me like a cosmic gnat buzzing my ear while
I struggled to connect with your sentiments.

You are the lucky one.

When all is said and done - and said and done again, as we are wont to
do these days - I believe we'll find that the secret of life is no
secret at all. That all any of us need do is see the path, have the
courage to follow it, have the wisdom to trust it... and have the heart
to know when to run off into the woods singing a happy tune.

You and JG had quite a few magical walks.

I don't like to get too much into the peripherals of personal history,
however compelling, for I feel it diminishes the source of the initial
admiration. Yet, from the limited knowledge I posess of JG's personal
triumphs and trials, demons and desires, I think this is true:
circumstances rendered it impossible for him to run off into the woods
when what he wanted most was to whistle a happy tune for a few nutty

Which brings me back to you. (You were wondering if this had a point
weren't you???) You are the lucky one, for you were destined to walk
the path with a fellow Banshee of comparable powers, creativity and
insight. The two of you touched the heavens and came back to share.
But where the glare of the spotlight and the will of the people became
too much for him to bear, you were free to wander ...and wonder.

My hope is that the woods hold many more magical moments for you and
that your path runs long and winding. Finally, a warm well done -- not
just for the moments of glory, but for baking your cake and eating it

r m ryan

I know. Life is still good and writing still offers the same old challenges it always did - how much can you say? How much do you dare to say? What difference does it make? I've always loved to write, which should be obvious from my website, and I've always loved to have my writings heard and/or read. I've been privileged to live in the eye of the hurricane, in the sector of my generation which I feel mattered most. I think what was learned there has enduring value. It needs to be parsed and considered from many directions. Not many are as fortunate as I in having the path so clearly defined for them. At age 55 I finally feel that I may actually know what I'm talking about. AND I have a choice. I can pursue it or not, just as conscience dictates. It dictates that if I want to sleep well, I damned well better - but that's not the point. I want to communicate, with every fibre of my being.

Thanks you for validating what I've been, what I am, and what I say. That's the other half of the communication, the part I can't do for myself. If I know I'm connecting in the way I mean to connect, it gives all the strength necessary to keep at it. One way or another -

Date: Aug 9 1996 7:00 AM EDT


thanx for your reply to my letter (remember john ford). i've been
bartending in brooklyn, in a nice italian neighborhood. there isn't a
guy who walks into this bar who's middle name doesn't begin with "the"
(if you know what i mean). yea, this guy everyone calls cujo said to me
the other night, "hey, kenny, give me another beer before the fight". i
said, "oh, is there a fight on tonight?" he says, "no, the fight when
you find out i'm not paying this fuckin' tab".
anyhoo, yea, i read your files about the england trip. right-0!
question: is there anywhere (hopefully on deadnet) where there is a
complete transcript of your lyrics. it enriches the listening so much.
fare thee well and hope to hear from you again if you have time! be
well, hunter!!!!!!


yeah, the GD lyrics are on file in the Archive. Check the index. My other lyrics are in my "Box of Rain" book.

That actually happened to you? I could anticipate the punch line from the first statement.


Date: Aug 12 1996 9:21 PM EDT
From: (Tom Ferrell)


Had a re-affirming experience in Boston last week that I need to share with
you. It started, of course, weeks earlier when I went to Furthur in Denver
(drove down to Fiddler's Green - venue name - to catch a tune or two).
Mystery Box is a masterpiece, by the way. Congrats to you and Mickey.
Anyway, I enjoyed the show very much but was overcome with emotion during the
Hornsby-Weir version of Jack Straw. So much wanted the piercing song of
Garcia's guitar, the visceral need to "go to Tulsa" that only one voice could
speak. Somehow I just couldn't let go and enjoy the music. It made me miss
it all too much. My fugue didn't last though, and I really loved the rest of
the day, although I told my wife and friends that maybe I just still wasn't
ready to hear the old tunes, not without him.

Cut to 8/8. I'm on a solo business trip to Boston, and Garcia is tall in my
thoughts. Decided a long walk was in order - is a long walk ever *not* in
order? Walked through Cambridge, down toward Harvard Square and ducked into
the Harvard Bookstore. There was a big display of Garcia books, as though
this anniversary were something to commemorate by spending money on people who
look at his life as a "project." Disgusted and a little blue by now, I left
and continued on my way. A bit later I heard something on the breeze - "a
snatch of golden theme." I searched for an open window in the dorms and
apartments above the street, hunting down the source of the melody. Then, a
little farther down the road, I saw a silhouette on the sidewalk - a spinner,
twirling in the night. And rounding a wall out in front of Harvard Yard, I
encountered a band - quartet - set up on the square, all tuned and jamming
deep in the throes of Shakedown Street. Which soon gave way to a sweet and
sorrowful Eyes. Then came Dark Star, leading masterfully into Easy Wind(!).
Now I was surrounded by other Heads, dancing, clapping, all letting go, the
night so hot and thick, the heart so strong and vibrant that our ol' wolf of
tragedy just couldn't break through. Again, so like the Dead itself, just
when I needed it most, it was there - and those feelings of not being ready
for the old tunes - oh, I was ready. I grooved for an hour, dropped a $10 at
the band's feet and left. You told JG in your letter that the songs stand on
their own. Yes, they do. And they can still work magic.

I'm home now (Boulder, CO), and I've been spending the past few evenings
outdoors, staring into the Northeast corner of the sky, eye cocked for the
meteors of the Perseid shower. It's been a summer ritual of mine for the past
20 years. It's different now. Those stars streak across the sky like life
itself, brilliant flashes against a darkness neither hostile nor encouraging -
just the background for a moment that you can't quite discern as real or not.
I hope you've had a chance to see them there in England. They remind me of
lines sung many times by old friends. Like familiar songs on an unfamiliar

Thanks again for staying with us. It means a lot.


P.S. I'm sorry to hear of another friend of your's slipping away. It's
brutal. I have a dear friend going in for cancer surgery tomorrow. If you
should catch a falling star in the English skies, think of her for me.

about that band you heard in Harvard Square, a place I've wandered myself many times, killing a day in the most pleasant way waiting to do my Jonathan Swift's gigs, about that band - that WAS the Grateful Dead. Get it?

SubjSomething for my scrapbook.
From: (Robert Lockhart)

Dear R.H.
Please feel no need to reply to this reply. I genuinely desire not to intRUDE
any further upon your storied good grace. Not a great epistolary age, this:
and for you to answer my pimply little fan letter so reflexively and so
thoroughly is, well....I mean, since I was 15 years old, about twenty-three
years now, you have been my absolute ideal as a poet. I always thought you
were a super reclusive recondite kind of guy. I had read a little about you
and your intellect seemed obscure (something about German dialectics, whatever that is) and I never imagined you would be so forthcoming. I sent e-mail to every R. Hunter that showed up in a search result and none were you (not even the fellow at the University of Glasgow who profiled himself in the directory as "a mature student.") Then I found your site which is the most fascinating thing I've seen on the web yet. Getting your reply was like meeting Madonna at a bar and goin' home with something for your scrap book. Who'd a thought it would be so easy. Anyway, I hate to do this, but I'm gonna have to ask for your indulgence for just a couple minutes more. I'd like to show you how you
have influenced me.

I was raised by the river's rhythm's,
counted down the days by the water's rise,
Took those rides that the river's given,
I learned it's ways and I heard it's lies.

And I have strode the muddy banks along the murky miles,
And I have offered thanks and damned it for it's wiles.
For I have seen what it can do,
I know its runnin' through,
Cause it left me cryin' in eighty nine but in
Ninty it delivered you.

So Rappahannock roll,
Wash Virginia's soul,
Gather strength along the length
but gently yield control and

Rappahannock run,
Recall the rebel son,
Who held your shore in the battle for
the Old Do-min-i-on

Old Dominion River.

I was born of the ragin' waters
On the dirt clod farm
Of my daddy dear,
I took a local wife,
a dog and four daughters,
And when I leave this life
I'm gonna leave it here.

For I have measured all the depths
along the rocky wind,
And I have dredged it for the treasures I could find.
For I was christened in its streams,
I crossed it in my dreams,
Such an awesome thing from a little spring (the river isn't what it seems)
Old Dominion River.

Damn, RL! That's a hell of a lyric. Slice me into bite size chunks if it ain't! Nothing rolls like a river, huh? Proud to be a piece o' your mind.

Subj: Days Between
Date: Aug 13 1996 6:48 PM EDT
From: (David Given Schwarm)

Hi Robert,

Just a quick lyrics question. The Annotated "Days Between"

> The first verse is autumn, the second spring, the third winter, and the
> fourth summer. So it's a nonlinear year.

I always thought that "Summer flies and August dies" was in the first verse.
care to clear this up?



can't help you. Didn't have anything linear in mind when I wrote it, that's just what came out. Further inspection of the lyric along those lines would be entirely pointless. The continuity is emotive.

Subj: Fw: Rilke and mania
Date: Aug 10 1996 6:20 PM EDT

Dear Robert-- I'm new to the net and pc's.Just got computer about a month ago and on the net 3 wks ago. Anyway I'm pretty much a novice but when I started using the search engines following my intrests--Literary Kick's Beat News referred to your page I was blown away by how much was on yr page. I've listened to the dead since 67 when I bought first dead album in mono and subsequently followed the dead's albums thru their next 5 albums and only occasionally after that--Blues for Allah I loved. Saw Dead in 68 at Sky River Rock Festival in Sultan WA and 69 at Altamont and 71 in Seattle but never since live. Anyway one of the primary reasons I loved/love the dead was lyrics on those early albums especially yours which it took me a while to figure out. Anyway I dont want to bore you with this the real reason I'm writing is to thank you for your translation of Dunio Elegies. I've been attempting to read this in various translations for yrs - the Mac Intyre and the one Norton
published that Spender had something to do with-- and yrs is the one that gives me real understanding of what Rilke was saying. I've downloaded the Elegies one at a time - go home at night and read yrs then the Spender one and go back to yours and read yrs again. Rilke has been bugging me for 30 yrs. In February of 68 , 2 months after turning 16 and after months of drug use of psychedlic variety I had what authorities called a "nervous breakdown" . The cops called it a bad LSD trip tho hadnt taken any acid for 3 months. Actually, 15 years later I came to realize, after having had 2 similar episodes upon quiting drinking, that I was a manic-depressive of the severe manic variety. Went thru a lot of shit to find this out - almost killed me.

But the gory details- and they are gory - also wasnt the reason I brought up Rilke. When I had the manic episode at 16 which escalated into me walking into a Catholic Church at Monday Morning Mass - me not being a Catholic - after 3 of 4 days of no sleep and manic delusions and a feeling of Zen-like omnipotence - and walking wild-eyed toward altar - me saying something loud and emphatic which I can't remember - A couple of the men in the church restrained me forcibly - the cops were called - and I was sent to the hospital - all this in a small town of 8000 in the rural agricultural north puget sound of the 60's - put into a padded room - restrained with a straight jacket- interviewed by cops, school officials primarily interested in whether I was on drugs - all this getting me wilder - then transferred to another hospital close to the state mental hospital so that a German accented psychiatrist could administer the appropriate shock-treatments - 8 of them - and pretty much remove much of my memory of 2 weeks of my life.

Anyway - before all this occured - right before I flipped out I was intensly reading Rilke's poetry - I was a literary precocious introverted wild ideaed kid who was totally absorbed in Rimbaud, Dylan (Remember the article in Ramparts about Dylan and Rimbaud - I read it in the high school library), Henry Miller's New Direction writings, Kenneth Patchen, William Blake, Kerouac,Ginsberg,Lamantia,Rexroth any rumblilngs i could catch from what was happening in SF - anyway Rilke totally was absorbing me in my manicstate -The MacIntrye translation. About the same time in my manic state I saw a tv interview with Alan Watts on PBS or something talking about Zen subject-object stuff and this put me over the edge into some kind of manic sense of enlightenment and I let everyone know about it - hence my incarceration. Also I had read One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and seen the old movie A Fine Madness so the whole nuthouse trip shock treatment was particularly excruciating. Anyway I came out of all that - got totally involved in the drug scene almost to prove the point that drugs were not the direct cause of whatever had happened to me. Over the years I never lost the sense that I had experienced a sort of enlightenment. The experience was that deep. Anyway in the very early seventies I quit drugs totally but continued to drink what I thought was moderately until 1981 when booze kicked my ass and I quit thru some hardcore AA groups. 3 months after quiting booze I started reading Rilke again - this time in the Robert Bly translation - still the Elegies were inacessible to me - and guess what? His poems hit me over the head again - had this heart rending power that drove me to tears, especially the one about the panther in the cage - and about this time Bly gave a reading in Seattle that I went to Hear where he read Rilke. Lo and behold a couple weeks later I have a manic episode the equal and surpassing the one I had when I was 17. Dont get me wrong - I'm not blaming Rilke. It's just that in the manic state I related to Rilke in a way I couldn't in everyday waking conciousness. But curiously both these episodes coincided with my reading of Rilke. By the way, both times I was never diagnosed as a manic depressive. This second time I ended up in a State Mental hospital - no shock this time and was eventually released after 4 months to my wife and kids. Then 5 months later I had another severe manic episode that again put me in the hospital where a doctor correctly diagnosed me and put me on lithium. I realized later I had been medicating myself with alcohol for almost15 years after the first episode. When I quit drinking I had 2 episodes that literally almost killed me - thats the gory details -painful- that I'm leaving out.

Anyway, the scariest part of all of the last 2 episodes in 1981 and 82 was the not knowing what was going on with me. I remember sitting in an AA meeting at midnight (I was going to 2 or 3 a day for 3 months before I flipped) and this woman's turn came to speak and she said that not only was she an alcoholic but that she was also manic-depressive and had to take lithium. I remember thinking" well at least I dont have that problem" and a month later I was strapped down in a psych ward in a Seattle hospital. Tends to humble one.

I'm just a working stiff who loves poetry and music and by the way, I too dig taking pictures of the changing sky in fact the older I get the more I enjoy the sky and its changes. I was wondering what you think of what I've said about Rilke and how reading him intensly occured at these times in my life. Some way it seems to tie into yr letters with McKenna in my mind. Also, I read yr journal about yr Dad in the nursing home and felt the humaness and reality of what you were saying. My mother was in a nursing home for eight years with Ahlzeimers before she died and yr right something is wrong at the core of the system that none of us can on our own devices fix. All we can do is deal with others with compassion and forgiveness and try not to let the system crush us or our loved ones.

I'm sorry to ramble on so much. Writing on the net makes me feel like I'm some kind of Kerouac puppy or something. Really enjoy your home page - feel like yr a friend reading yr journal and mail pages and really appreciate yr Rilke translation and the woodblocks also. Hope I dont sound like some basket case. This is some of the crap I live with and have been trying to sort out for 30 yrs and I'm still dealing with. I guess I should be paying you $100 bucks an hour or whatever the going rate is now with shrinks. I hope you don't feel I'm using you as such. I really just wanted to express my appreciation for the Rilke and got wrapped up in wanting to be understood which is a whole other subject altogether. If you want to put this in your mailbag its ok and giving my e-mail address is okay but I really don't want to use my name which by the way is Joe ***. So if youd just call me Joe that'd be cool.

to me Rilke is the Western poet who speaks with most personal and persuasive authority on the nature of the soul and the universe. His nerves were probably as bad as yours. He was a "ringing glass" sounded by all nuances of existence.

Manic depressive episodes re-interpret the world to fit the highest and lowest perceptual modes of the observer. All of it's true - none of it's true. The raw intensity of experience, in and of itself, regardless of content, is the whole truth of the matter and is subject to interpretation via anything at hand, be it poetry, overheard conversation or a weather report. If one studies enlightenment literature, it would seem likely that such study would mold the manic depressive episode into an "enlightenment" matrix. If one studied John Lennon obsessively, one might, in a down swing, decide to identify John Lennon as the source of all the confusion and do the clearly appropriate thing. More often, I would think, the gun is turned on oneself. I shudder at the continual mis-diagnosis you underwent in the hands of a 70's culture which tended to place the ills of the world directly at the feet of the pop-demon LSD and blind itself through prejudice to real, treatable, critical problems.

Some of my dialogue with Terence McKenna is problematic in that it could be interpreted as recommending the use of the most potent mind altering substance imaginable, if only through a natural urge to emulate. Both of us have the same quandry: is the information we brought back to be labeled "Taboo" and "Forbidden" because of its source? The questions it raises are real: philosophically and psychologically important. I considered myself an explorer and I paid a heavy price, in psychological coin, for what I found. My writings on the subject are strewn with warnings. In this matter, I am a reporter, not an advocate.

I've been in touch, through email, with a young man suffering manic-depressive delusions focusing on Christian themes and the Grateful Dead. Rather than feed his fantasies with rhetoric, I advised that he seek immediate medical help. This demonized me in his eyes and the communication ended with truly horrorific accusations as he decided to fling himself whole heartedly on the church. I expect this solution will eventually provoke something very much like your horror story of Monday Mass. Hopefully, when the public crisis comes, he will be diagnosed properly. One can only pray! Reasoning, as you are well aware, is not much use against critically impaired body chemistry.

Thank you for your positive evaluation of my Rilke translation. I also felt there was something vital to understand which was not coming through too clearly in available translations, so I went to the German and laboriously made my own. I felt enough of a sense of kinship with Rilke's thought that what other's had missed seemed obvious to me. He is supposed to be difficult. I didn't find him so. He seemed very clear. Perhaps my own experiences opened those doors? My interpretation has been adjudged sound by respectable and knowledgable sources, including Rilke's latest and most comprehensive biographer, Professor Wolfgang Lepmann, so I'm content that I'm not self deluded. I'm printing the Elegies on the net because my book, being published by a small press, is generally unavailable in bookstores. Maureen will be pleased to hear you like her engravings.

I thank you for your daring self revelation and permission to print your letter. It is not often such a compelling story comes my way. I feel that the true power of the internet lies in the possibility of making such cries from the heart widely accessible. I try to lead by example, though my tale pales beside yours. If many dare to tell more of themselves than is strictly comfortable, we will all gain much. You might just save the life of someone in a similar crisis with your personal story.


Dear Robert'
Thanks for the reply. It helped me put some things into
perspective. The thoughts about Rilke and the manic
episodes I experienced have been bothering me for
a long time. I've never really been able to resolve it
in my mind.It's strange--I still have the old MacIntyre
paperback with my penciling from the time back in
'68. When one is on a intense manic roll and the
synapses are crackling the feeling can be an ecstatic
one similar to an intense LSD, DMT or mescaline trip.
That is one reason that my episodes in 81 and 82
were initially so confusing to me. Where were they
coming from? I hadnt touched the above mentioned
substances since 1970 or so. When I had my initial
episode in Feb of '68 there was drug use on my
part in and around that time tho I knew I had not
taken LSD for 3 months tho was into heavy marijuana
usage. The shrink labeled me a paranoid schizophrenic
and ordered shock treatments, heavy thorazine treatment
and restraints. Totally misdiagnosed. Before days of
lithium use in this country. Because of my behavior in
this small 60's town I was labeled as the one to keep
ones sons and daughters away from, the teacher's kid
who "freaked out on LSD", and either aroused intense
fear or curiousity in others. Felt like a freak in a cage.
Not the best way to help a mentally ill person recover
from their disease. Anyway, my involvement in drug
use increased after this which wasnt any help for
my condition but I didn't have a recurrence of the
profound highs of mania but did suffer extreme
depressive moods which ended in me turning
to alcohol to medicate myself and after the 60's
were over I quit drugs althogether as I saw many
of my friends and people I ran with either destroy
themselves or others as they drifted into hard
narcotics. You know the score. Anyway I'm rambling
again. I too don't advocate drug use but it was a
fact of my existence and many of the experiences
I still remember including a particularly strange
time on DMT. Wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
Many of these experiences are as vivid as yesterday
in the cinema of my mind. Anyway, back to Rilke,
what you said put that into perspective. I had a
fear of getting too deep into certain writings because
I felt it might trigger a response in me that could
trigger a manic episode. When one is a manic-
depressive and aware of it as a condition of ones
being that has to be lived with on a daily basis-
then one has a hard time relaxing. One has to
question the very foundations of ones mind-
make constant reality checks. Feelings of
happiness become suspect. Remember the
movie "Tender Mercies" where Robert Duvall
tells his new wife that he doesnt trust happiness?
When I saw that scene it knocked me over the
head. That's the way I had felt for years. Its only
been recently that I've been able to accept feeling
"good" , "happy", for any block of time without
fearing that a manic attack could be around the
corner. Others might find it fashionable to call
themselves manic-depressive. The manic-depression
I suffered from(suffer from) has such severe mania
involved that its no day at the beach.Like I said
before-it almost killed me - literally. When I had the
attack at 30 years of age I cracked my sternum
struggling while being restrained to a table at a
state institution. I didn't sleep for days despite
medication. I've read since that in the past that
it wasnt uncommon for people in severe mania
to die of exhaustion. I felt I came close to that.
At my age now I know I couldnt survive another
attack. Throughout my 30's and into my forties
I became comfortable enduring things and
suffering thru periods of severe depression-
sometimes suicidal. But I gritted my teeth and
endured - feeling that this was a amuch better
condition than being manic -I did less damage
to myself and others. Only in last few years have
I become comfortable in my skin so to speak
and have a feeling of happiness that doesnt
make me suspicious. A sense of freedom.
When I sobered up in AA they said it would get
better and it does but not overnight by any means.
Anyway-I read Rilke now without trepidation and
with more appreciation. "Critically impaired body
chemistry". Thats exactly it. Today medications
for treatment for manic-depression and uni-polar
depression have advanced tremendously from the
past. Many of the drugs used for depression
in the past were "dirty" i.e affected parts of brain
chemistry in a shotgun effect resulting in numerous
side-effects that made the depression more bearable
oftentimes than the resultant impairment caused by
the drugs. Many of the anti-depressants today are
considered "clean" drugs, pinpointing exact parts
of the brain chemistry and resulting in little or no
bad side-effects. I don't want to act like a doctor and
offer prescription advice but listening to and taking
sound medical advice isn't a sign of weakness and
I would recommend that anyone having manic or
depressive episodes to please seek out help with
a physician, not necessarily a psychiatrist, that
you trust. Most of them are fairly knowledgeable about
bi-polar and unipolar illnesses and can prescribe appropriate
medication. And if the prescription has side effects that
one feels they cant live with then ask to try another medication
until you get one that is right. There -thats my dr. Joe trip
for the day. One other thing about manic-depression. There's
an excellent book by Kay Redfield Jamison called "An Unquiet
Mind, a Memoir of Moods and Madness." She's a Professor of
Psychiatry at John Hopkins University who is also a manic-
depressive and relates her own experiences and insights into
the illness that I'd recommend to anyone who feels they are
manic-depressive or who have loved ones (or hated ones)
who are. She also wrote another book on the artistic
temperment and manic-depression which I forget the title of
off the top of my head but if relates the many poets, writers, and
musicians who also suffered the disease - it's good to read
makes one not feel so all alone and puts one in good company -
kind of a boost to ones self esteem which manic depression
has a tendency to take away.
I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. I don't know
whether I'm putting too much of myself out there by relating
some of these experiences but I figured why not? Like Dylan
said-"the hours getting late."
sincerely- Joe

P.S. Looking back when I was diagnosed by the shrinks as a
paranoid schizophrenic ( which is often the case when manic-
depressives are encountered in a full-blown delusional psychotic
manic state) - a month or two later a friend of mine who had
only some college psychology courses to go on said to me
he couldn't see how I could be a schizophrenic since that is
a progressive long term chronic development and that my
psychosis had a sudden onset. A friend who knew me with
just the slightest knowledge of textbook psychology came to
a closer diagnosis of my condition than a full-blown psychiatrist.
I'm a firm believer that mentally ill are in need of compassion
and friendship more than clinical analysis.

P.P.S Sorry if this sounds like some sort of public service

public service announcements are us. This sort of information needs to be planted all over the place so that someone who needs it may just recognize themselves in it - perhaps someone prowling through this very mailbag in search of they know not what.

Please understand I speak as a layman here - voicing the reasonably informed opinions to which I'm entitled so long as they're labeled such.

Visionary poetry walks the edge of mania and the only personal measuring rod I know of, to judge the difference between balancing on the border peering over and being swept into the broiling gyre, is consistent productivity and lack of suicidal intent. I thank the powers that be (knock on wood) I've been spared the terror you know so well and pray it may continue so. I don't mean to infer that I'm sane, God forbid. I think the record speaks for itself. But the difference between "creative depths" and enforced access to ungovernable oceanic realms capable of destroying body and spirit are immense.

What key recreational drugs, or literature, may play in exciting manic-depression I don't know, it's not a case of generalities but of specific cases, but I'd think predisposition is probably the determining factor, as it appears to be in alcoholism. Edgar Allen Poe was the master at revealing the mechanics of manic- depression, "The Tell-Tale Heart" being the definitive work on the subject, not to mention "The Maelstrom" and "A Cask of Amontillado." We don't much appreciate Poe in America, tend to think of him, if at all, as a horror story writer - but the French consider him our greatest writer.

But to continue the above thought, where I moved off track praising Poe, self medication has proved less than brilliantly successful in treating schizophrenia or manic-depression. I doubt that many whose nervous systems are fortuitiously balanced find much call to indulge in substance abuse. Substance induced mania may, indeed, be a warning in itself that things are not well in the depths. As ever, suicidal fantasies are the key. Anyone who entertains such notions should run, not walk, to a medic. Don't waste time trying to decide whether or not to blame it on the drugs or alcohol, just go. Work out the details later. Suicidal thoughts are an unfailing indicator of major depression. Where do you go? If you know any recovering depressives, ask them. If not, in this day and age, someone you know knows someone who is. Don't be shy. Those in the know want to help you.


Date: Aug 13 1996 3:45 PM EDT
From: (Long Island Soundkeeper)

Hey there rh, Its funny, having read some of your writing, and heard you on
a radio program, I've often thought, "I really wish I could sit down with
him sometime" I wouldn't say email is the next best thing, (I'd actually
love to send you something at the po box, and someday soon I will)--but I
appreciate the opportunity. Your letter to Jerry was beautiful in its down
to earth sincerity-thank you for sharing it with me--really. I read your
letter a week ago, and again last night--over the past year, I've cried
because I miss Jerry, I've cried because I'm at a turning point in life and
losing Jerry felt akin to losing my youth and in some ways my faith. I've
also cried because not long before Jerry's passing, I also SUFFERED the loss
of my mother. I've cried because I'm confused, I've cried alot--but I
didn't cry when I read your letter. Last night I reread it very slowly and
from start to finish I felt at peace and accepting of the present--the
letter sits on my bureau at this very minute, and it will stay there
awhile--thanks again. On a somewhat cheerier note, after reading the letter
the first time, I got out my swirl art, water colours, and a pen, and wrote
to Kathy and sent her a copy of the letter to JG--when I put it in the mail,
I walked away knowing that I had just brightened up one of her days. She
called me this morning and told me that she got the card and letter on
Saturday after working all day painting a house, she stopped home quickly,
found the letter, smiled, then put it in her pocket and headed to the bar to
unwind with her fiance. She read the letter at a table of friends at the
bar, and each one wanted a copy--You've touched alot of people and its
great--thank you for the third time--sincerely, anne

thanks for a tale about the adventures of the letter. I'm really going to have to sit down and read that thing myself one of these days. Am more than a little surprised at the response It's been getting.

Sounds like you've been going through a helluva rough patch. Sorry about your mother. Maureen lost her mother two years ago and is just now coming to terms with it, visiting the house where her father lives alone now, surrounded by her mother's things. The flowers in the garden are all dead, since John is too infirm to tend the garden. Maureen came back from her first visit deeply upset, but subsequent visits are giving her the strength that only comes through confrontation. That's one of the purposes of this two month sojourn to England. Time is kind, but it won't do the whole task by itself. There is work to be done in grief. To put it simply, we must learn to let go, with love. Easier said than done. I wish you well at it.

Subj: Thank you for your Words
Date: Aug 12 1996 2:23 PM EDT
From: SEVERSK@WSDOT.WA.GOV (Kate Severson)

Here is an echo to the thundering thank-you's for your letter to JJG.
I wandered around cyberspace last Friday morning - wanting to find
something to satisfy my sadness of the date, as well as futilely
searching for Ken Kesey's letter to Jerry that he read during the
Eugene Furthur show. He told Jerry that the silence was ear-splitting,
a deafening void. When I came upon your letter, I felt like it put the
last year in an appropriate focus, and as usual your eloquence shone through.

We saw 2 furthur shows. The first was the Eugene/Veneta show, where the
Merry Pranksters took over the stage, and where a serendipitous rainbow
overhead graced us during "Lovelight". I cried several times during this
show, because I missed Jerry's presence, and I could imagine him somewhere
in the clouds above, cupping his ear with his hand, tilting his head toward
the music and "faithful" on the earth. We then saw the Shoreline show, and
I didn't even cry once. It felt like closure to see Phil on stage, and to
realize how young and vital the musicians performing on stage were.

I was five months pregnant when Jerry died, and Dylan Jerome was born on
December 7, the day that the remaining band members met to disband. Dylan
has helped to distract me, as well as given me the biggest lesson in life's
continuity. The Grateful Dead have been a part of my existence since the
seventies, and this chapter of my life is being written with new meanings
and deep experiences.

Thank you for reading this message - I am very nervous about tripping over
words and expressing my thoughts to you, a brilliant poet and wordsmith.

And thanks again for your letter to Jerry. I forwarded it to those close to
me, and appreciated it's timing and perspective. I enjoy reading your

**Kate Severson**


thanks for your letter, your deeply felt thoughts, and also for getting my letter where it would do some good. We all like to think that the web is one helluva big place, but how many people do you actually meet who are hooked up? Outside my circle, not very many. Soon this may not be so, but for the time being paper talks louder than digital feed

Subj: question reality :time is not linear
Date: Aug 11 1996 8:45 AM EDT
From: (jennifer levin)

dear rh: i've been enjoying your thoughts for so many years, it's a
pleasure to be able to check into your archive as well. thanks so much
for the letter to jg you posted. as always your eloquence and wit bring
a smile to my face. when i think of how amazing and fragile the whole
'dead package' was/is, i like to view it from this perspective: it is
all the same show, it's just that some set breaks are longer than
others. AND if time is not linear, then all those moments we treasure
cascade and shimmer within and around us infinitely. thank you for
helping to make sure that there's more than just ashes when our dreams
come true. jenlev


what an absolutely perfect little letter. It has the uncanny feeling of excellent truth about it. Whatever time is, I think it's a pretty safe bet our general chronological interpretation of it is way off the mark.

Date: Aug 14 1996 12:29 AM EDT
From: (Joe Bento)

On Mon, 12 Aug 1996 13:41:21 -0400, you wrote:
>great painting. It opened fine. Good shot of it too. Thanks.

Hello Robert...

Thanks. Only after I uploaded it to you did I find your instructions
on submissions such as the photo of my painting. Sorry about that!
Anyhow, I'm glad you liked it. I'll check with you prior to sending
another scan, but I do have one from last year's halloween prop at my
parent's house. We set up a plastic skeleton, weaved lots of red
roses in its head, and also draped them around its arms. For the
picture, mom is posed in her tie-dye best! Anyhow, their front porch
was cause for quite a bit of conversation with the visitors!

You have probably heard of our terrible weather here in the Bay Area.
Anytime the mercury tops 100 and decides to stay there for a few days
makes for pretty miserable conditions.

PG&E had a major outage last Saturday. It blacked out the majority of
the entire western US. Seems something called the Pacific Intertie, a
power feed that spans the entire west, became overloaded due to the
extreme heavy power demands from the heat. The system shut down,
leaving nine states, two Canadian provinces, and part of Baja
California in darkness. I spend no fewer than three hours a night at
this stupid toy called a computer, and was "forced" to read by an oil
lamp during the duration the power was out. All was not lost though.
"Box of Rain" kept me busy! Power was restored, at least in my
neighborhood, four hours later.

People often relate their lives experiences to your lyrics, and I have
one to share also.

Last January, mom and dad's dog, a toy poodle of 14 years, had to be
put to sleep due to illness and failing health. We were at the "Pets
in Need" in Redwood City a couple days following. One little dog, a
Laso Apso (sp?) came running up to mom with that curled tail flapping
in all directions. It was immediate love, and we took her home. Upon
introduction to the house, it was time to show her the back yard.
Sniffing whatever interested her, she returned to us after a visit to
the flower beds. She had rose petals all over her head! You might
guess that mom named her Annie. All she knew is she could not leave
her there. (In the shelter.)
Annie was found on the streets of San Jose, and apparently had been
there for quite awhile. The people at the shelter believe that she
may have belonged to a homeless person and got loose. She had lost
most of her teeth, and all but two of what remained needed to be
pulled. She gets along just fine, though.

I am thinking about what you mentioned about online journals. Many
years ago, I actually kept a daily notebook. One day though, I caught
someone reading my private little book. Unfortunately, I have not
entered anything about my daily life since. And now, here I read your
daily entries, sharing with anyone who has the desire to read, a good
portion of your private life, your writings that are yet to be
published, etc. Somehow, I don't feel the world is terribly
interested in the fact I'm an electronic technician and my daily life.
I do not know how to utilize the type of vocabulary that could even
hold interest. Having never had to deal directly with the public at
great length, I'd be terribly embarrased. Shit, I was even self
conscious about dancing at a Dead show!
While I love to read, such as the Alaskan adventures and Tales of
the Uncanny on your web page, your own works, various sci-fi authors,
etc, I can't imagine doing something similiar myself.
What's the answer? Just do it, and to hell with what people think?
Perhaps I should give it a try. My internet provider, Hooked, gives
each user 20meg of storage for web, FTP, etc. I have a lot of space,
and nothing yet to fill it with. I have the scanner now, so graphics
are no problem. I'm fairly comfortable with HTML. So what am I
waiting for? I guess to get up the nerve!
I know you only through your writings. I feel I know you more as a
actual person instead of the Grateful Dead lyricist by your journal
entries. Yet here I am writing you as though you're a personal
friend. Perhaps I should express similiar thoughts in my own journal?

Rest well, Robert... I have a strange feeling our long, strange trip
is nowhere near over.



how about sending pics to the GD office where I get my mail? Or better yet, put the pics on your web page! You think nobody would want to read what you have to say. Hmm - I wouldn't worry about that to begin with. Say you only get 3 hits in the first month: your own, mine and your best friend. Fine. Don't put a counter on your page. You don't need to know that. Instead, imagine you're talking to the world. You'll discover things about yourself you wouldn't find out in a month of Tuesdays. As you get into it, somewhere along the line someone will discover you're just the kind of person they'd enjoy talking to. Similar interests and perspective. You get a dialogue going and publish that. That person's friends will also want to check it out, send some feedback. Maybe some of them will think what you're doing is such a great idea they'll want to start a page of their own. Great. You link back and forth and make what's called a web.

Yes, I heard about the power outage. Expalins why I couldn't bring up my server Saturday. Glad to miss the latest California heatwave, but I get daily reports. Makes me feel like I'm getting away with something!

Subj: Better late than...
Date: Aug 13 1996 11:10 PM EDT
From: (Robert Auritt)


Thanks for posting my story to the Library of the Uncanny, I get a kick out
of seeing it there and showing it off to people. I showed it to my boss at
work before I remembered that the subject was a little "off" for work, and
that I mentioned drug use. Oops. No harm done though.

I have been trying unsuccessfully to avoid the subject of Jerry and "one
year later" and all that jazz in my personal life. I have been reading
faithfully the beautiful letters posted here by you and many others. I
thought I was done mourning. Sure I was down on the 9th, but I knew I just
needed to dance. I went to the Knitting Factory here in NYC to catch
Illuminati doing the Blues for Allah Project thing. Their repertoire has
expanded beyond BFA and they have a nice groove going. Most importantly
they seem to be committed to the improvisational ethic. This music needs
improv to breath life into it. Hearing your words from the mouths of
unfamiliar vocalists was an interesting experience, and often I was hit by
them in new and different ways. I felt good that night. Like I could move
on at last. It has been these few days since that I seem to have been
swallowed in a sea of sorrow.

I can't seem to get out of this funk. It hit me on the subway on the way
home tonight. The sense of loss. Eternity staring back at me. A year was
a long time to go without being in the same room with that guitar that gave
birth to many infinite worlds - in each note a whole lifetime flashed in
the mind's eye. The cycle of birth and death, rising and falling, creation
and decay, roses blooming and fading all in an instant. All the myriad
possibilities of the world coming into fruition, moving out of existence.

It is ironic that at this very moment it is so difficult to put that
central lesson learned through all those magical nights to work for me.
Change. Change. Change. I know it intellectually, but in my heart the
longing seems now heavier then ever. One year gone past, but so, so many
more to come. It seems unfathomable. Suddenly, "Its even worse than it

I believe that things are headed in a very bad direction for our world.
This has nothing to do with who sits in Washington, it has to do with the
real power that puts them there. It has to do with the consequences of the
social policies that are being pursued as more and more of us struggle to
hold on, and a very few see their profits soar even higher. Environment on
the brink, racial injustice, the list goes on.

I am overwhelmed when I read the letters people been writing in response to
your letter. The depth of emotion is palpable. I have a flash: I'm not
alone. SO many people were touched so deeply. To our cores as living
beings. The realization that such an awesome accomplishment is even
possible, let alone occurred, affirms my belief that we may be able to
pull this thing out yet - That there is hope in the face of the madness of
our modern world. After a year I realize that part of the nature of my
pain is the loss of the thing that could so powerfully renew that hope. I
will find a way to tap that well again. We all will. If not, there is no
hope for us. I for one, am not about to let the bad guys win. Not only
will we survive - we must.


Robert Auritt

have patience friend. The bad guys don't win. They die too. Just a little later. Thing about being one of the good guys (assuming) is that we can come together. The bad guys come together only to divide us in their interests, and then they go away. They just want their names in the history books which they hire their guys to write. They put out the myth that they can kill us all so we better watch out and do what they say. But they can't because we walk among them. They'd have to kill themselves too, their sons and daughters.

I think our work is to come together without building a power structure. All power structures can be appropriated. Religion is the best example. Let us, oh let us, strive never to become one of those. No doctrine, just empathy. No leaders, just many and diverse good people. No badges - we recognize one another by a light in the eyes. The more of us, the less of them. Keep your nose clean. Stay out of jail. And don't mope around the house mourning what once was. It still is. It's yours to find out how and why.

Subj: 1 year
Date: Aug 13 1996 7:28 PM EDT
From: (Anthony Head)


I'm a curmudgeon. The worst thing is that I'm not a very good one.
A year ago, when my wife called me up sobbing asking if I had heard the news,
I said "It'll be okay." I hung up, calmly walked out of my walls, past the
other workers who viewed the day with no special significance; I took the
elevator to the parking garage where I found my car with well over 100,000
tour miles resting in its space.

I had seen this day coming for years. And I was ready. It had to happen, and
bracing myself was the best defense.

I sat in the driver's seat and told myself that I had five minutes to cry.
I cried.
Five minutes later, I went back to my walls and fielded questions from the
curious few who had taken the time to notice the telltale signs of an aging
hippie on the walls and the remnants of tears in my eyes.

"It will be okay."

Well, a year later, it is okay. Of course, the past twelve months has been
total shit, but, it is okay. I can't count the number of times I've cried but
needless to say, the old miser was wrong all those years when I pretended
that it wouldn't affect me that much. I still tear up now and again. It
seems to happen most when listening to the tapes; just as the band is coming
down from Space; Mickey and Bill are approaching their drums and --there it
is--you can actually hear the people standing up. They're arching their
backs and stretching their calves for the last leg of the show. I always
remember them appearing to me like flowers shooting up from the earth as the
sun gently tugged at their leaves. (Corny, eh?) For I paid as much attention
to the crowd as the band.

And you know, over the past year, it has become increasingly clear that not
only did the band pay as much attention to the crowd as the music, but so did
everyone else. This confirms my belief that we really were partners in this
thing. How often did you hear of the band without also hearing of the

That's why I think everything is okay. There may have only been one Jerry,
but, there are millions of deadheads. Your letter and other words (I hear
you write songs...) are some of those threads that run through our lives,
keeping us all together.

As usual, you summed up the past year so poignantly and ended with such hope,
that I can only say thank you and that it's going to be okay.

Your friend,


after reading your letter I realized it would be a good thing to put up another special mailbag quickly. So I sat up late formatting at least some of the mail rolling in and getting ready to drop it on the site this morning. I hope no one feels left out - I answer everything but tend to put up only the most telling combinations of letter and reply. It's not even the greatest letters that necessarily move me to what I hope are sufficient answers - sometimes it's just determined by the energy I happen to have left on tap when I open one. It's been a full time job.
Thanks for yours.


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