Why doesn’t the government ask for help from Deadheads? If anyone knows how to make sure every parking lot has plenty of doses, it’s us.
The other day my son told my wife that I make way better grilled cheese than she does.
I had to remind them both that the secret ingredient to the perfect grilled cheese is good old Grateful Dead parking lot love.
It’s that perfect time of year when the dog poops are easy to pick up, don’t smell, and aren’t frozen to the ground.
It’s the little things right now, folks.
i dropped a net on my words
can’t write anymore
The other day I was walking into work and found myself consciously avoiding the cracks in the segments of cement sidewalk. I felt a little ‘Monk-ish’ and I could hear Devo singing in my head, “Step on a crack… break your mama’s back!”
But then I thought, “Wait! my mother’s dead. I’m free! This isn’t going to hurt her!”
Then I went and made sure to step on every goddamn crack.
After a few weeks of being hunkered down and working all kinds of weird hours doing mobile tech support for a couple of thousand users, I’m starting to get a chance to sit up and look around at where things are in the world.
But in doing so, I do so remotely. As do you, if you’re reading this. We have all been suddenly thrust into this strange new world that is partially shut down, and partially virtual.
For the first time in human history, we can continue to carry on large portions of the global economy through virtual methods. Virtual meetings, Internet-based commerce, digital banking, in-home entertainment, and the internet of things. Of course you can’t eat a Tweet. And the sooner we are able to get back to a more normal semblance of life, the better off we will all be.
But the reason I am writing this is to say thanks to a group of people that have been invisibly making large portions of what we do everyday possible at all. And that‘s because they’re the people who make all of our technology possible. From the network engineers, to the call center worker, including the electricians who makes all run, and the hardware repair folks who put it all back together when you break it at the worst possible time, even that annoying office tech guy who grunts every time he has to listen to you swear again and again that it’s not your fault that email hates you, all the ay our to the entire population of earth that is now available to me at the touch of a button on this powerful computer we still call a cell phone.
We live in a world that continues to move at an unprecedented speed, all doing so from our couches now. The whole thing takes a constellation of jobs and technologies to make it all work.
And for that, take a minute to just thank a tech person you rely on. And if you can, resist the urge to ask them a ‘quick question’, just this once.
During the mid to late 80’s I was in school full time for graphic arts, along with a permanent side track for Grateful Dead tour whenever possible. I was also one of those people who occasionally sold things in the parking lot at those Dead concerts. Sometimes I sold food, but more often than not I sold art-related things, shirts and posters mostly.
Back in the spring of 1988 I had started working on an idea for a t-shirt based off of a line in the song “The Eleven” by the Grateful Dead. The words as they are sung are, “Six proud walkers on the jingle bell rainbow”. I absolutely love the imagery of those words. Robert Hunter was by far the biggest influence to my writing. He had a unique ability to invoke powerful imagery, yet somehow leave the images formless so that they must be completed by the imaginer. Upon his death I posted this small, simple haiku that reads so plainly as to escape detection for the art it is meant to be. It was my personal ode to my mentor, and a master wordsmith. Simple, honest words, polished like a golden bowl – the finest ever seen.
Back to the shirt… So, I conceived of a piece of art. It would be bordered on all sides by ivy. And then, coming from the back and arcing toward the front would be the rainbow, but like a bridge being traversed by the walkers themselves. Each walker would be carrying a hand bell, shouting their message to the rooftops. All but one walker, he alone carried the jingle bells. It was an homage to an old friend who himself had to leave this world just to be able to once again walk the jingle bell rainbow.
Now, about the walkers themselves… Since it was the 80’s I drew a lot of eyeballs, little eyeballs with arms and legs. Yep, that was my thing. Most of the eyeballs in this piece looked pretty much the same, except for two of them. One of those two stood out in the crowd, he leans on a cane and has donned an Uncle Sam hat. There he stands, one foot on his soapbox, preaching his word to all who will listen. Every parking lot had a few of these folks, spreading their philosophy like Vegemite. The remaining eyeball was my friend Ken, his pate wrapped snuggly in a bandana, hawking some t-shirt in the parking lot (in my mind, it was the very shirts I was drawing).
Having letters that spelled out “Six proud walkers on the jingle bell rainbow” were also a part of my concept. Done in 60’s concert poster style, the letters snake and intertwine, leading the eye to new places.
When I came up with the design, I didn’t have the ability to do multicolor screen prints, but I could create single color screens. So, using what I had I decided to make the art to be a black and white line-art base that I would screen print onto the shirts first, adding additional color on top later. You can’t have rainbows in black and white!
Eventually, what I ended up doing was to using my airbrush to individually spray each individual color into the piece. Each leaf in the ivy had to be sprayed in green. Each color of the rainbow had to be sprayed along the arc of my rainbow road, each in perspective, hopefully coming from smaller point and getting larger as I went. And while I was spraying all that color onto my rainbow, I wasn’t supposed to be spraying it all over those cute little eyeball dudes walking along my rainbow road. In order to get around that problem, I tried to fashion cutouts that I could place over each eyeball to protect them from getting painted as I sprayed away. It sort of worked with mixed results, but it was a huge pain.
I think I only ever made one or these two shirts that I was happy with. So, after giving up on that method of coloring the art, a tie dye artist friend named Chris created some rainbow dyed versions, which certainly was in keeping with the spirit of the rainbow. But, in the end I sold a lot of black and white versions of the shirt. And after I had drawn it and made the screen, the original art was put in a portfolio and forgotten about, never to see the light of day again for another 32 years. In fact, until recently when my friend Andy sent me an old picture of him wearing one of these shirts (below is a blurry, partial shot of Andy wearing the black and white version), I hadn’t seen the art in decades.
Well, I was recently on one of those covid lockdown tangents/projects when I came across the original artwork for the “six proud walkers” piece in that old portfolio. I decided to scan it in so I would at least have a digital copy finally.
And then I got to thinking… You know, aside from one or two shirts that probably disintegrated decades ago, I never had a finished copy of this piece to keep. So dammit, with the help of technology I am currently airbrushing the color on to my black and white art as it was originally conceived to be done (see below, again). But I am also trying to do it in a way where I can be shared with others, and that maybe it will give a few other people a smile, I hope.
Sitting on my summer deck
Jerry plays, hot in the sun
I reach out with myself
to commune with nature
The very same one
I tamed with power tools
irony hangs thick on the air
People with chronic anxiety, huddle up! It’s time to give yourself that ‘pep talk’ that only you can give to yourself…
“Get out there Tiger! Don’t worry, today’s going to be boring! Everything going to go as planned, finally. And, for once there won’t be any nasty surprises!”
“No ones going to scream about something in your ear, or yell at their kids when you happen to be close enough to get the ‘shock’ from it. Better yet, I’ll bet you no one is going to yell near you at all!”
“Today you’re not going to have to worry about your boss. You’re won’t need to get clarification from them when they give you vague instructions about some incredibly sensitive matter that they won’t offer you any help with, never mind answer your questions. Instead, everything will make sense, and every angle will be covered beforehand. Doubt is a thing of the past!”
“Today’s the day that your family, and friends won’t ask how you’re feeling, nor will they even have to. You won’t have to deal with that moment when the conversation awkwardly dies, because you don’t have the answer they’re hoping for. Today no one is going to ask you at all, and all of the conversations will be fine.”
“Today will also be the day that your heart rate will finally respond to those breathing exercises everyone has been showing you for years. You know the ones. You’ve tried them a million times, but they only seem to work on normal people. Not today, my friend!”
“And best of all, today you won’t need those rescue meds either. Which means, you won’t need to worry about feeling crappy for days afterwards because of all the side effects.”
“Today is your day! Enjoy, or not. It’s totally up to you! Do whatever you want to today.
And don’t worry, there’s no reason to second guess any of this. It’s all good!”