Tag Archives: Robert Hunter

Valentine’s Day Advice

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Since today is Valentine’s Day and I’m not qualified to speak about romance, I’ll let the Grateful Dead offer advice in matters of love through the video for their song “Foolish Heart.”

If you want to follow along with the singing, here are the lyrics from https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tcu6tifbkyp3snodrbo6j7ijoym?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics&u=0#:

Carve your name
Carve your name in ice and wind
Search for where
Search for where the rivers end
Or where the rivers start
Do everything that’s in you
That you feel to be your part
But never give your love, my friend,
Unto a foolish heart

Leap from ledges
Leap from ledges high and wild
Learn to speak
Speak with wisdom like a child
Directly from the heart
Crown yourself the king of clowns
Or stand way back apart
But never give your love, my friend,
Unto a foolish heart

Shun a friend
Shun a brother and a friend
Never look
Never look around the bend
Or check a weather chart
Sign the Mona Lisa
With a spray can, call it art
But never give your love, my friend,
Unto a foolish heart

A foolish heart will call on you
To toss your dreams away
Then turn around and blame you
For the way you went astray
A foolish heart will cost you sleep
And often make you curse
A selfish heart is trouble
But a foolish heart is worse

Bite the hand
Bite the hand that bakes your bread
Dare to leap
Where the angels fear to tread
Till you are torn apart
Stoke the fires of paradise
With coals from hell to start
But never give your love, my friend
Unto a foolish heart

Unto a foolish heart [Repeats]

Built to Last
”Foolish Heart was released on the final Grateful Dead studio album Built To Last which came out in 1989.  It was written by Jerry Garcia (music) and Robert C. Hunter (words). The video was directed by Gary Gutierrez .

According to http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0349359/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm, Gutierrez graduated

from the San Francisco Art Institute, [and] apprenticed at John Korty’s Mill Valley studio as an animator of children’s films, creating and directing live action and animation for Sesame Street and The Electric Company.

(So there folks, is the connection between The Grateful Dead and Sesame Street I always suspected existed.)

[He] create[d] the 8 minute animated opening for The Grateful Dead Movie…

Gutierrez also directed the music video for the Grateful Dead song “Touch of Grey,” which was the introduction to the Dead for many people, especially those of the MTV generation.

The American Book of the Dead
The American Book of the Dead by Oliver Trager says the movie footage in the “Foolish Heart” video is from a 1903 film by Georges Méliès called Kingdom of the Fairies.

According to http://www.earlycinema.com/pioneers/melies_bio.html,

Maries Georges Jean Méliès was born in Paris in 1861…

Méliès’ principle contribution to cinema was the combination of traditional theatrical elements to motion pictures – he sought to present spectacles of a kind not possible in live theatre.

He pioneered the first double exposure (La caverne Maudite, 1898), the first split screen with performers acting opposite themselves (Un Homme de tete, 1898), and the first dissolve (Cendrillon, 1899)…He was also one of the first filmmakers to present nudity on screen with “Apres le Bal”.

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Kingdom_of_the_Fairies) says of the film,

…film historian Georges Sadoul suggested that the film was freely adapted from La Biche au Bois, a popular féerie by the brothers Goignard, which had been first produced in March 1845 at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin and which was frequently revived throughout the nineteenth century.[4] A publication on Méliès’s films by the Centre national du cinéma cites Charles Perrault‘s story “Sleeping Beauty” as the most direct inspiration for the film, with the seven fairies in that tale reduced to four.[4]

The film’s cast includes Georges Méliès as Prince Bel-Azor, Marguerite Thévenard as Princess Azurine, and Bleuette Bernon as the fairy Aurora.

I like the whimsical, but also slightly creepy vibe of this video.  Skeletons playing records, Victorian era toys, ghostly band members, black and white film footage of devils with pitchforks and torches, Bob Weir’s hair, I like all of these aspects of the video while they make me a bit uncomfortable too.

 

You Got Shoes to Wear

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Sometimes I see women in my age group who look homeless or at least very poor, and I think, That could be me. Sometimes I see women in my age group pushing overflowing shopping carts or riding bikes upon which recyclables have been fastened, and I think, That could be me. Sometimes I see women in my age group walking down the street talking to themselves (or to someone I can’t see), and I think, That could be me. I sometimes see women (in my age group or otherwise) flying a sign, and I think, That could be me.

I’m poor and I live in a van now, but I’ve been 100% homeless and there have been days when I’ve had zero money to my name. I’ve never pushed a shopping cart or tied my money-making enterprise to a bike, but I’ve walked through towns with all my earthly possessions in a ridiculously large pack strapped to my back. Sometimes I do talk aloud when no one else is around, until I catch myself doing it and close my mouth before a stranger labels me crazy. I’ve flown signs, panhandled, asked strangers for what I needed to survive. I could be those women I see because I have been their sister in poverty, a sister of the streets.

During a recent visit to San Francisco, I saw a couple of women and thought, That could be me.

I was walking down the sidewalk next to Mission Street, near the 16th Street BART station. Two women about my age were walking in front of me. Between them they were hauling a huge, red plaid, thick plastic tote bag, something probably designed to transport laundry into and out of the washateria. I didn’t see what was in the bag. I really wasn’t paying much attention to the women, even though they were yelling at each other. Then I looked over and noticed the woman on the left was wearing socks but no shoes. It startled me more than if she’d been barefoot.

Walking on a dirty city sidewalk in socks with no shoes really said living on the margins to me. Had she lost her shoes? How? Had they been stolen? Did she not have the few bucks to go into one of the several thrift stores on Mission Street and get a pair of shoes? Did she own shoes but for some reason I can’t fathom chose to only wear socks?

I could have asked her; she was right in front of me, but I didn’t want to be nosy. Her footwear (or lack thereof) was none of my business after all. I didn’t want her to think I was judging her (although I guess I was). I didn’t want to offend her. And while all of those reason for not talking to her were true, I also didn’t want to admit publicly or to myself that her situation could be my situation.

I feel like I’m doing ok right now. I’ve got my van. my little comforts, my small saving to get me through to my next job, and my seven pairs of shoes (which I know is a ridiculous number for a person living in a van to own.) But I know I’m one road disaster or health crisis away from being back to having nothing. I know friends would help me if they could, but things are rough all over.

I look at these women in my age group, women living on the margins of society as I am, and I think, That could be me, not with disdain, but with a little fear. Maybe some of those women are happy, and it’s not my place to assume they’re not. If they are happy, More power to you, sisters! But when I see women who don’t seem to be doing very well holding their day-to-day living together, I remember to be grateful for the shoes on my feet (and the extras stored away), my narrow bed, the roof of my van over my head.

Thanks to Robert Hunter for the title, a line from “Here Comes Sunshine.”

 

Answers

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I recently offered my readers a chance to ask me questions. Today’s post consists of the questions submitted, as well as my answers.

Let’s start off with an easy one, shall we?

Dave asked, Pot pie or pizza pie?

While I would not turn down pot pie freely given, my choice will always be pizza. I would choose pizza over most anything else, except maybe ice cream.

Here’s another easy one, from Mary. Do you work for the state or federal government?

Neither. Of course, I am not working at the moment, but when I am working, it’s not for any governmental agency.

Now onto a question with a longer answer. This is a fun one.

Muriel2pups asked, Blaize, What would you do if you won a million dollars?

Funny you should ask, as I do have a plan, although buying lottery tickets is not part of the plan. Not sure how I expect to win if I don’t play…

Over the summer I noticed sometimes my coworker and I would talk about the possibility of some event or reaction and then the thing we talked about happened. I decided we needed to turn this ability to manifest into a million dollars. My coworker and I agreed to share any money sent our way by the Universe. So, if I won a million dollars, half of it automatically belongs to my coworker.

I have a handful of friends and worthy causes to whom I would dole out somewhere between  $200 to $5,000 each.

I would have my van repaired and overhauled in every way necessary.

I would visit Montana and Alaska.

Would I still have money left after that? I have no idea. I don’t have a clear concept of how much half a million dollars is. I guess I would probably do some socially responsible investing with whatever was left and try to live off that money while writing or making art.

Cindy had several questions. Let’s take them (and their answers) one at a time.

 I am pretty interested in the life out on the Mesa outside of the bridge in Taos. Have you ever lived out there? What did you think of it and what was your experience if you did.

No, Cindy, I never lived out on the Mesa. I have a couple of friends who do, one I visited a few times and one I house and dog sat for several times.

Like many neighborhoods, the Mesa is a mixed bag. There are people out there living in huge, seemingly expensive, “nice” houses. There are people out there living in shacks, old school buses, and homes they built themselves, piece-by-piece, over time. There are people out there living in structures somewhere between a mansion and a shanty. Some people on the Mesa use solar power, and other people have no electricity at all. Many people on the Mesa have no running water and have to haul their water home.

Two women I knew have been murdered on the Mesa in less than three years. For me, these killings put a dark cloud over the area’s visually stunning landscape.

Do you keep your money in a bank at all?

 Yes, Cindy, I do have a bank account. There was a time before I had a bank account when I kept my cash on me. Of course, I worried about getting robbed. During that time, I did not keep my money hidden in the van, in fear of the van getting stolen or towed.

Now I worry about a breakdown of the financial system which would leave me without access to my money. I suppose if the financial system breaks down, that paper’s not going to do me much good anyway.

Just a fun question. What is your favorite meal? Like if you could have anything to eat for dinner tonight what would it be? ..and your favorite dessert?

 If I’m cooking for myself, my favorite meal is some variation of brown rice, tofu, and veggies. I particularly enjoy blanched broccoli.

If the Lady of the House is cooking dinner, I’ll take gumbo!

If any food in the whole world could magically appear in front of me, I would go for boudin.

As for dessert, I don’t know if I’ve ever met one I didn’t like. Any sort of concoction with brownies or cookies or cake and ice cream would make me happy.

Camilla said, I was wondering why you never post a photo of yourself anywhere on your blog.

My privacy and security are very important to me. I don’t necessarily want strangers to know what I look like, so I don’t post photos of myself. The same goes for my van. While I don’t think I would be mobbed by adoring fans, I feel safer without my face plastered all over the internet.

Besides, what I look like has no bearing on my writing, my photography, and my art. I would rather you judge me on how I behave and what I can create rather than on how I look.

Louise asked, Do you think this is something that you’ll be doing for as long as you can or do you think that you may choose a more stationary life? Maybe I’m asking when/how/if you would choose a more permanent (or semi-permanent) place to lay roots for a while.

In “Truckin,'”Robert Hunter best explains my life as a van dweller:

You’re sick of hangin’ around and you’d like to travel
Get tired of travelin’ and you want to settle down

 When I’m stuck in one place, I want to hit the road. When I’m on the road, I think about the benefits of settling somewhere.

Don’t forget, I was mostly settled before I started my life on the road. I know what it’s all about.

But yes, I do think about settling down in some shitty little apartment, working some shitty little job, stuck in some city. I wouldn’t want to live in a city where I didn’t already have friends and a support network. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to live in most of the places where my good friends live. I’m not willing to work 8 hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year at some job that’s not doing much good for the world so I can take a two week vacation to visit people I love.

Also, I wonder if I could even get a real job these days. I’m a middle age woman who’s been mostly out of the  job force for seven years. Who’s going to hire me? It’s not like I have any specialized, marketable skills.

I do worry about getting older, about getting sick, about being injured. (I am very careful getting in and out of the shower these days.) However, I’m not willing to sacrifice my now for future unknowns. Maybe I will be able to work as a camp host until the day I die.

Sue asked a long and complicated question. I will try to condense it.

I’m sure you’ve thought about what you went through a LOT. And while you did think about them, did you isolate things he said and did, and then re-identify them from casual remarks into recognizable warning signs? In other words, have you learned to think about what people say and how they act so it will help you in future relationships?

One reason I don’t write much about my ex is because there are many aspects of both his and my life (and our life together) that would immediately reveal our identities to folks who knew us fairly well. I’m not interested in my ex finding me and contacting me, so I don’t share parts of our past that would lead him to me.

That said, during my relationship with him, I was mostly cognizant of what was going on. I don’t have to look back and say, Oh, that was a warning sign. I look back and remember how I knew at the time how some word or action was fucked-up shit.

So have I learned to think about what people say and how they act? I don’t know. What I can do now is identify fucked up men from a mile away and run in the other direction. (I could probably spot fucked up women too, but I don’t get as many opportunities.)

Brent asked, Blaize, I would like to know what you don’t have in your life that you would like to have.

While I have many close and wonderful friends, I spend most of my year far away from them. I’m lonely a lot. When I do visit, my friends have work, kids, relationships, a million obligations they can’t drop just to spend some deep quality time with me. I get it, but it’s difficult for me to feel fulfilled by friendship in passing. I wish I could spend more time with the people I love.

Laura-Marie asked me the following sweet question: how did u get so wonderful? i really mean that. what factors came together to form beautiful u?

Aw, shucks.

But I don’t feel wonderful! I’m grumpy and short-tempered and pushy and annoying. Anything good you see if because I am working against my natural tendencies to talk too much and make stupid jokes. I’m working against feeling irritated and wanting to have everything my way.

I used to do nice things for people because I wanted people to like me. Now when I do nice things for people, it’s usually because it’s the right thing to do. I try to treat people as I would like to be treated. I try to act like the kind of friend I want to have.

 

Yet Another Collage for a Friend

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The camp host down the road was really nice to me when I was sick. She hooked me up with echinacea and zinc tablets and even gave me lemongrass soap (in the shape of a peace sign!) that she’d made. I’ve been meaning to do something nice for her in thanks.

She’s a deadhead too, so I wanted to make something Grateful Dead related for her. I decided on a collage with the quote I really love from “Scarlet Begonias.”

The turtle is metal, sent to me by my friend in New England. He’s been sending me little trinkets all summer, and I’m working some of them into my art. The turtle was the camp host’s favorite part! I like how it makes this collage truly mixed media.

Dreaming of Jerry Garcia

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Today is the anniversary of the birth of Jerry Garcia.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Jerry Garcia was a musician: player of guitars, banjos, and mandolins and a singer too. He was famous as a founding member of the Grateful Dead, but was also in Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, and New Riders of the Purple Sage.

I dreamed about Jerry just as this year’s season as a camp host started.

A couple of days before Memorial Day, I dreamed I was outside somewhere with trees. I was not in a city.

Jerry Garcia was walking around this place of my dream, smiling and happy. He was giving out LSD.

I knew him, of course. I think he knew me, but I don’t think he knew me well, like maybe we’d met once or twice, but I didn’t think he’d consider me a close friend. I wondered if he’d remember me at all. I knew he’d probably give me a hit even if he didn’t remember me because he was passing it out freely, but it would certainly be nice to be remembered by Jerry Garcia.

When he came up to me, I opened my mouth, so he could lay a hit on my tongue. I thought he’d drop a hit, maybe two, into my mouth, but he fed me I don’t know how many hits. I had little bits of paper poking from between my lips.

My feelings were torn between Oh boy! and Oh no! I was excited and scared.

How much is just enough? How much is too much?

I wondered how many hits I’d just taken, considered asking Jerry about the numbers, then decided to just go with the flow.

I heard a woman ask him in a real suck-up tone, Are you getting tickets tomorrow, Jerry?

He said, I’ve got tickets right now.

If his looks left any doubts as to who he was, the unmistakable voice erased them. It was definitely Jerry Garcia right there.

Unfortunately, I woke up before I could feel the effects of the gifts from Jerry. I wonder if the Catholic Church would view Jerry getting me high from beyond the grave cause for canonization. I bet most Deadheads would. In any case, while I didn’t wake up high, I did feel happy and at peace.

It was the first time I dreamed of Jerry, although a few weeks earlier, I’d dreamed of hearing a Grateful Dead song I believe existed only in my brain.

A couple of weeks after my dream about Jerry, I was driving when “Attics of My Life” began drifting from my speaker.

I’d not listened to “Attics of My Life” much. It wasn’t in the repertoire of songs marking my relationship with the person who really got me listening to the Dead. Since I mostly listen to music when I’m driving and I want upbeat rhythms to keep me awake, I hadn’t heard the song often since I’d been on my own. But it somehow made it onto my phone with a recent importing of music, and now it was slowly swelling out of my speaker.

It’s a lovely, ethereal song, from the 1970 American Beauty album.

American Beauty

Why have I never really listened to this song before? I wondered.

Then the last verse hit and Jerry singing Robert Hunter’s words brought me to tears.

In the secret space of dreams

Where I dreaming lay amazed

When the secrets are all told

And the petals all unfold

When there was no dream of mine

You dreamed of me

I’m not even sure if I can explain how I felt when I heard this song after dreaming of Jerry.

The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
(In The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, David Dodd says Robert Hunter was asked about the meaning of this very song  Hunter replied,

…If I could say it in prose, I wouldn’t need to write the song. Poetry is evocative–it’s meant to communicate to deeper levels and approach the levels of nonverbal experience.

So I suppose if I can’t express my reaction to the song in prose, Robert Hunter did his job as a poet-songwriter perfectly.)

I felt as if Jerry and I had some connection. I know that sounds trite and cliché . But if we realize we are all connected (even if in a state of chemical alteredness), does that make it untrue? If I hear this man sing twenty years after his death and his voice moves me so strongly that my tears begin to flow, well, I maintain that’s a connection.

I also felt as if my dream brought Jerry Garcia to life, if only in my REM state brain. There he was–living, moving, smiling, talking, feeding me all the LSD I could fit in my mouth, bringing me comfort and peace. I dreamed Jerry into existence again, for however brief a time.

When there was no dream of mine

You dreamed of me

Happy birthday, Jerry.

Click below to hear and see Jerry sing “Attics of My Life.” My favorite part of the video is at about 1:27, where he looks over at Bob Weir with “What the fuck?” written all over his face.

 

A New Collage Gift (The Light)

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I made another collage as a gift for a friend. This friend is a Deadhead (or at least has Grateful Dead tendencies), so I used a quote from “Scarlet Begonias” (words by Robert Hunter) for this piece. I did a variation on this same theme in January 2015; you can see that piece here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/04/07/even-more-collages/. I like working with the visual images of light when I illustrate this quote.

Dispatch from the Road

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It happened just about the way I thought it would.

On Friday morning (as I was eating breakfast), my boss showed up at the campground and told me that I could leave on Sunday. Basically, I had to work the rest of Friday, then on Saturday, and then I was done. Originally, I was supposed to leave the next Thursday, but I was so ready to go and happy to leave earlier than planned.

The maintenance guys had gotten the yurts completely down and hauled away the day before. My main job in the campground was to ensure the yurts weren’t stolen, so with them gone, the highers-up decided that I could go too.

Also, the gates to the parking lot were to be closed and locked on Sunday. On Monday the Forest Service was to close the trail in order to cut 149 hazard trees. With the trail closed, there was no need to have the parking lot open and no need for a parking lot attendant.

I had the van packed with all of my belongings except my bike by early Sunday afternoon.

On Monday morning, I got up around 5:30, after a restless night of little sleep; I typically don’t sleep well the night before a trip. I loaded the bike into the van and drove off into the dark.

I left the mountain as the night was dying* and met the daylight as I drove along the river.

I saw a fox in the middle of the road, its canine eyes shining in the brightness of my high beams. It didn’t run from the van, but walked briskly down the yellow line. I followed it slowly for several yards, excited to watch it. It was the first fox I’d seen all summer. I didn’t even know foxes live on that mountain, but now I can say confidently that they are there.

Later, once the sun was up, I moved into the desert and passed through a forest of Joshua trees. I wasn’t sure those crazy plants were Joshua trees until hours later when I did a Google image search. It was also hours later when I realized I should have stopped the van and taken photos of them. I was so hellbent on getting out of the desert while it was still somewhat cool, I didn’t even think about stopping.

I made it to the highway exit travel mecca ( with a Pilot truck stop, a Love’s truck stop, a Flying J truck stop, AND a TA truck stop, as well as about twenty-five food and drink options) around noon. I did my laundry at Pilot, then caught up on my email at McDonald’s. I slept in the parking lot of the Flying J, which was fine except for too much light and too much noise. It’s going to take some readjustment to sleep in civilization.

I’m at McDonald’s again, using the free WiFi and electrical outlet to write this dispatch. I was going to try to do without coffee today, but when I realized I was falling asleep while writing, I decided to get some. When the young woman behind the counter asked for 75 cents for my small coffee, I realized she’d given me the senior citizen price. My vanity clashed with my frugality, and I had to decide if I should  tell her I won’t qualify as a senior citizen for at least another 15 years (60 is the senior citizen milestone, right?) or take the discount. Frugality won, and I took the discount with silent dignity.

Shortly, I will get back on the interstate and head to MegaBabylon to visit friends. As I walk through the parking lot, I will probably notice once again how big and wide and open the sky seems here, then remember it’s because there are no trees to frame it.

* I stole the image of dawn as the night dying from Robert Hunter’s lyrics for “Sugar Magnolia.” I was listening to the song as I went down the mountain, and this time when I heard that line, I was hit by Hunter’s brilliance.