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Dancing with the Dead--A Photographic Memoir: My Good Old Days with the Grateful Dead & the San Francisco Music Scene 1964-1974 Kindle Edition
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|Length: 338 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Thanks for sharing Rosie !!
The Merry Pranksters took the painted clown and made him manic with their Acid Tests. The bumper stickers - "What if they gave a war, and no one came?" "Make love, not war." Tim Leary chimed in merrily pranking himself and guileless teens with "Turn on, tune in, drop out." [then what?] The Grateful Dead, and other San Francisco bands, with the help of Bill Graham, gradually came to monetize their alternative lifestyle, making it possible to continue, even thrive, and include at least some others, where Rosie was in a Family, and helped make it happen through the hard-broke years, staying “turned on”…necessarily mingling with people “living on reds, vitamin C and cocaine,” “having a hard time, living the good life” but eventually hitting it big.
Florence Nathan, in her 20s, made the choice, when the rock circus came to town, to join it, longing for a life different from "the sterile life of my parents" but found herself just scraping by as a young adult, alone in an apartment, having drifted into secretarial work in the business district, downtown S.F. The drip, drip, drip of T.S. Eliot's "I have measured out my life in coffee spoons..." threatened to pull her down, but with electrified music, and with sugar cubes that took you higher than Mr. Kite, thanks to Owsley and associates, who swore enlightenment was just around the corner, a whole new world opened up through the looking glass.
The kaleidoscopic images of The Scene whirl through this book as she steps back and gives us her photographer's eye on the outside and the inside goings on, that only some could share, due to space limitations, and due to the inevitable fact that - at some point - the doors on the Further bus close, and it's gone in the chugging of half-burned hydrocarbons, or were those brain cells? She doesn't seem to care. She was on the bus...we get to join her through her memories, dreams and reflections. She doesn’t say exactly how, but as the years rolled, she got motion-sick. At some point she simply got off. Later, she courageously refuses to succumb to turmoil and isolation, and returns to a concert already on…
"As I danced that night, I was overwhelmed with love for the band and especially for Phil. There's no way to describe what it is like dancing inside that vortex of musical communication, once again..." (Chapter 6, p.235).
Still there's a sense of an unfinished symphony here...
The Kris Kristoferson song "Bobby McGee" Rosie took her reborn identity from, is about joy in life lived, and grief in love lost, that Janis made so poignant and golden in her brief, burning last year. We are given a fairly full view of the life Rosie lived, but only glimpses of the loss. Sobbing over a rotted teepee she meant to spend another summer in, in someone's backyard in Marin (p.276), can only mean she was struggling not to return to a foursquare life, to keep the hope of hippiedom alive.
Florence Nathan, renamed by others in sympathetic resonance with the Merry Pranksters method of monastically altering identities, and the song Janis made golden, crossed with the rose-colored glasses she says (at the end of her book) she viewed the world with, became reborn in a new name. But there's yet the question from another song of Kristoferson's to be responded to, "The Pilgrim, chapter 33." Was the going up worth the coming down?
"As far back as I can remember, I lived a life backlit by romantic delusion." (p. 309) Rosie writes. She says she fell in love with another man, and if you scrape through the acknowledgements, you find she has a son with her man's last name (p. 312), but nothing more is said. Is there a package left on the porch, as yet unopened? Would it be by chance A Box of Rain? Or has the music died, and it’s really over? Over, once again.