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inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #26 of 128: David Gans (tnf) Thu 25 Feb 99 18:57
    
Which is to say:  Please get ME interested in her.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #27 of 128: Smouldering Lust And Motorcycle Mechanics (jmara) Fri 26 Feb 99 16:59
    


I remember reading somewhere that Mary McCarthy was taken seriously as an
intellectual until she wrote "The Group" and then dismissed because she
wrote a book about WOMEN.  Is this just an idle rumor, Carol?
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #28 of 128: Carol Brightman (brightman) Fri 26 Feb 99 17:56
    
This was Norman Mailer's opinion, writ large in the New York Review of
Books, whose importance in intellectual circles up until about 25
years ago is hard to imagine today.  (As is the very existence of
'intellectual circles.')  THE GROUP was in a sense one of the first
popular novels about women in the twentieth century, and not only about
women but about sex (from a woman's point of view),, diaphragms,
breastfeeding, infidelity without punishment, social relations as the
stuff of life. MM was the first Material Girl, for all her radicalism
on Vietnam and on other subjects.  She didn't break ranks so cleanly on
McCarthyism.  
She was a great satirist, brilliant critic, and her novels in the end
were probably weakened by the degree to which their characters were
rooted in real life.  This is part of their fun of course, but if you
know the world she moved in you sense that she was captive to it,  in
that the fiction became the life, the battle, by other means.
David: Mary McCarthy was a real ball-buster (as they used to say) who
revered marriage when she was married (four times).  For me there were
some personal connections, which I didn't think about in the 60s. A
generation apart, we were both raised Catholic, went to Vassar, and I
too maintained an interest in literature and politics. Like her I
mistrusted sentiment in prose, preferred sense to sensibility, etc.  
Before I started interviewing her (at length, until her death in 1989),
however, it was her generation that interested me most, and always
had. After our interviews  she became this wonderful character,
bristling with contradictions..  A character in creation in
conversation, as in her best writing: MEMORIES OF A CATHOLIC GIRLHOOD,
I think, and the stories in THE COMPANY SHE KEEPS. 
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #29 of 128: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 26 Feb 99 22:45
    
In Sweet Chaos you compare Mountain Girl to Mary McCarthy... that was
intriguing.  Mountain Girl seems like such a strong character and soul, yet
she was caught in the kids & cooking routine.  Poor Mom.  

Almost sure to be left behind.  But the deadheads remained loyal to her.  
Can you say more about her role and choices?  
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #30 of 128: Steve Silberman (digaman) Fri 26 Feb 99 23:22
    
Hi, Carol.

There are still "intellectual circles" in New York City -- where they 
always were, I suppose.

Here in SF, it's hard to get a minyan <grin>.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #31 of 128: Mud Love Buddy, Feelin' Groovy... as long as you've got your health! (almanac) Fri 26 Feb 99 23:58
    

Nice to see you here, Carol -- I was sorry that we just barely missed
meeting during your recent swing through the Bay Area, and this is a nice
Next Best Thing kinda way of getting together.

The line that got Mary McCarthy sued by Lillian Hellman is right up there in
the Great Literary Insults Hall of Fame. If I remember right, it went
something like, "Every word she writes is a lie, including "and" and "the."
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #32 of 128: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Sat 27 Feb 99 13:03
    

Carol, the Mary McCarthy stuff is so great!  I'm loving to read about it.

digaman, you complain about intellectual circles and then do a <grin>?

Please.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #33 of 128: Steve Silberman (digaman) Sat 27 Feb 99 14:09
    
Hm, not sure how I offended there, but onward.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #34 of 128: Carol Brightman (brightman) Sat 27 Feb 99 18:19
    
Gail: MG reminded me of MM because she has such a fierce persona in
conversation, at least during our interview at her house in Oregon. 
She loves conjuring up the past in a few sharp images, as did McCarthy,
recalling personal confrontations as if they were affairs of state. 
MG has a more collective memory, which is probably why deadheads love
her.  Her feeling-memory is strong, and one hope it gets into the
memoir she's currently writing.  She sees over her shoulder. She's not
tied into her own knots.  She has a feel for the times.  But I have to
admit she's a real charmer, as was McCarthy, outrageous, opinionated,
and you want her to be RIGHT even when you can realize how others might
find her pushy and wrong.  
As for having been "caught in the kids and cooking routine," does this
make her a weakling?  Context is all.  Up there in Oregon with her
kids and her sheep and later Jerry's BMW convertible, she's hardly a
suburban Mom.  It's a feminist hoax (second wave) to see women raising
kids as somehow having sold out the team--the team being lead by the
supermoms with briefcases, Organization Women, who pay others to run
the family shop, while they grab for those gold rings their fathers
struggled for, and so nothing really changes.  Another subject.  

Steve: I think it's hard to get a minyan (with girls) going in New
York too. What's missing everywhere are free-range intellectuals, free
to respond to a larger world outside the quarrels going on inside
academe or NY media circles.  Like for months you could see all of them
falling down like dominoes over Monica, ending with David Remnick and
the Mona Lisa cover on the New Yorker.  But even bright young culture
critics like Tom Frank are organ-grinders for their magazines (The
Baffler in the case of Frank), and rarely say anything that surprises
you.  What matters for this discussion is how you define "intellectual
circles," or "intellectuals."

Who"s Mud Love Buddy?  I love these names.  Gary Lambert?  Hellman
deserved it, I think.  She was an overrated writer, and too many young
women I knew swooned over her famous memoirs (JULIA, which turned out
to be a fake, PENTIMENTO, SCOUNDREL TIME). The question to which
McCarthy responded was, Who do you think are overrated writers?  BTW,
the other one she mentioned was John Steinbeck....I ask myself, who are
the overrated writers today? And you have to say that noone remains on
the shelf long enough to become a candidate, except perhaps Toni
Morrison, who is wrapped in a similar can-do-no-wrong mantle that
Hellman was.  So is the poet Maya Angelou.  I've only read one of
Morrison's novels, and liked it.   I've read nothing by Maya Angelou
but have enountered  her several times with her entourage, and found
her personally obnoxious, but what does that say about writing?.... 
Mud Love Buddy, you're right about that line of McCarthy's.  She
thought LH was a liar in prose, that she bent historical events out of
shape to dramatize her own heroism, etc.  McCarthy, of course, was
self-dramatizing in prose, too, only she specialized in dramatizing her
faults--her horrible slips.   
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #35 of 128: Andrew Brown (andrewb) Sun 28 Feb 99 02:23
    
Is the book to be published in England?
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #36 of 128: Gail Williams (gail) Sun 28 Feb 99 11:52
    
Carol, maybe I would have been smarter to avoid the word "routine" in that
expression.  I didn't mean it in a cynical song&dance sort of way, I was
really thinking of the daily routine enforced by taking on the roles you
described.  And yes, the back-to-the-land adventure is a formidable and
admirable one, no quarrel.

I was reading the secton where you comment along this line -- 
  "Besides, she wasn't a musician, she adds. She tried to run the 
   soundboard for a while, but with Sunshine in tow she was distracted 
   and missed too many cues, and was dismissed."

And I was not thinking of briefcaseland, but of the novelist/thinker you
compared her to, Mary McCarthy, and of your sister, the strong creative
female participant in the thread of your book.

I don't want to dishonor Carolyn, certainly.  Reading about the division 
of labor and the need she decided to fill, and thiking about her place 
as a cutlural icon, I was thinking about women in the GD world.  It's 
an intersting set of roles and ideals, not easily glossed over by 
generalizations.  And MG is one of the prime role models. 

But to get a bit more personal for a minute, my main involvement with the GC
scene was via two long-term lovers who were deadheads.  Too me, the scene
was magical but in my life it was centered around my love for those two
guys.

I was moved by shows (and tapes) which were the soundtrack to some vivid
experiences and synchonicity in the 70's and early 80's, but some of 
the "religion" offered a very different female archetype and identity
than my more political pals and I embraced and projected in our daily lives.
During the Donna era of the band, in particular, there was a compelling
strong and in some ways classically feminine presense on stage.  She 
sang, and didn't simply twirl and waver her arms, as other pretty hippie 
dancers had done on other stages.  To me and to a few women I talked to in 
that period, this was affirming, in a satisfying counterpoint to other 
respected role models and choices outside the 'church' of GD.  for some of
us, this might have been another attraction of the 'secret world' aspect 
of the GD.  I don't want to reduce MG to an Earth Mother icon, but we do
seem to lack and crave Earth Mother icons.  And your description of her as a
matriarch is just right.  

Years later, when a group of women set up an all-female WELL conference 
<msgd.pri.> for women involved in the GD scene I began to think of how many
of us experienced some of those contradictions and conrasts.  I'm glad MG 
is writing her own story.  I think she's important to many women, and that
leads me to guess that she's important to a lot of men in other interesting
ways. 

In another vein or chapter...
Did your research on LSD and the CIA lead you to any insights about current
government policies around drugs, or was that part of the investigation
limited to the past?  The descriptons of government acid experiments and
interviews of paid-to-trip subjects are eye-opening.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #37 of 128: Carol Brightman (brightman) Sun 28 Feb 99 12:42
    
Andrew Brown: No, SWEET CHAOS is not to be published in England, as
far as I know.  Crown/Potter sold it to Simon & Schuster/Pocket for the
opaperback, due out in September '99.

Gail: The sad thing about MG, I think, is that she always wanted to be
one of the boys, and succeeded only with the Pranksters, before she
had kids with Kesey and Jerry.  But there was a lot of showmanship to
that, and it may be that she grew stronger up there in Oregon with her
daughters.  Anyway, there's not ONE role model for women in the GD's
"secret world," is there?  There's room for Candace and Betty Cantor as
the creative types holding out there with the lions in the pit, along
with the quiet backroom efficiency of Eileen and Cassidy Law, Sue
Swanson and Sue Stephens (and others), and the outrageous "matriarch,"
Mountain Girl.   But all in all, given the patriarchal side to the GD,
not to mention the usual adolescent macho side to rock&roll, the GD was
not a place where women were invited to spread their wings.  It wasn't
quite as bad as life with the Black Panthers, where a woman's place
was "prone," but not a whole lot better, no?  But I don't have direct
experience of this--only observations, and the more I talked to
deadheads, I have to say, the less these stereotypes held up.  
How interesting that you had an all female WELL conference on the
Dead.  When? Still active.?.I have to run out right now. More tonight.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #38 of 128: Gail Williams (gail) Sun 28 Feb 99 13:43
    
Yes, active, open to female WELL members... there's a public description of
the conference at http://www.well.com/conf/msgd
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #39 of 128: John Berger (jberger) Sun 28 Feb 99 22:55
    
Carol, I watched the E! biography of Jerry tonight, and found it extremely
interesting to see the difference in the way that the subject of drugs was
treated.  

Your book went much more into the cultural reasons about the way that acid
came into the Prankster scene, going back to the experiments at the VA
hospital; and how widespread concurrent use allowed a group energy to
spin out of the energy of the individuals, taking on a life of its own.

The E biography seemed much more interested in sensationalizing the 
issue, with frequent shots of lines of coke and needles, trying really 
hard to make the point "don't do this at home, kids".  
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #40 of 128: Carol Brightman (brightman) Mon 1 Mar 99 19:06
    
First, thinking about Gail's question re how past "paid-to-trip"
experiments may be related to current govt. policies around drugs, two
things come to mind.  One, how draconian mandatory minimum sentencing,
especially where marijuana and hallucinogens are concerned, stand in
such loony opposition to the earlier rounds of CIA experimentation.  
But the more important fact about current drug roundups, especially
crack busts which imprison many more blacks than whites, while surveys
show many more whites than blacks use it, is how the War on Drugs
business underpins the burgeoning prison industry--the largest in the
world, just as the US imprisons more people per capita than any other
country in the world, not just any other "democracy" as the papers say,
but any other country, including China and Iraq. 

As for the E! Biography of Jerry Garcia, it's hard to imagine them
doing anything else but sensationalizing the drugs.  Or leaving the
context and history behind.  Or mixing up the hard and the soft.  I
didn't see it, but heard that Mountain Girl gave an interview, which
surprised me. Was she in it?    
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #41 of 128: John Berger (jberger) Mon 1 Mar 99 22:51
    
She was in it several times, as were Tiff, lots of Joel Selvin, and brief
appearances by David Gans (tnf) and David Crosby (croz).  They managed to
deal with the repeated tragedies in jerry's youth, but only because there
was a sensational story angle to them.  Once they got to 1970, the story
lost me.

Almost no context in the show to cover the other social events of the times.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #42 of 128: Carol Brightman (brightman) Tue 2 Mar 99 19:36
    
I was asked to do an interview and refused, thankfully.  You have no
way of knowing how what you're saying is going to be packaged, except
that with media like this, you know the subject is going to be
hopelessly cheapened.  AS for MG, I figured her participation then was
somehow related to her battle with Deborah Koons.     
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #43 of 128: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 3 Mar 99 10:49
    
While reading the book I had this thought that this was the sort of
treatment a history of the early days of the WELL would need.  And it was
interesting to see the crossover of GD and WELL history bubble up in the
story.

Which brings me to the polinator in this context, Mr. David Gans...  
David, you had some quotes in this book which were pretty biting.  
Your descriptions of the sociology of the group and the relations with 
the deadheads were.... right out there.  Sorry, don't have it in front of me
right now, can't type any of them in.  But outspoken, certainly.

Any sensitivity to that from interviewer and/or interviewee?  Any regrets or
repercussions (like you'd say!) or, Carol, was there any body of other 
remarks left off the record but supporting some of the disfunctional 
dynamics?
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #44 of 128: David Gans (tnf) Wed 3 Mar 99 11:06
    

I have not suffered any repercussions (yet).  My experience of the Grateful
Dead world is that the people who want to fuck with you do so regardless of
who you really are or what you say.  I have been assigned a role in the movie
by various people that has little or nothing to do with who I really am, and
nothing I say or do can change that.  The people who know me trust me, and
telling the truth is part of the deal.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #45 of 128: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 3 Mar 99 11:48
    
Not to make this topic into a suck-up-a-thon, it was impressively candid.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #46 of 128: Carol Brightman (brightman) Wed 3 Mar 99 19:38
    
If Mr. Gans doesn't mind my saying so, his "biting" remarks were/are
the tip of the iceberg.  His iceberg.  Next to Candace he gave me the
most compelling picture of the Dead's "disfunctional dynamics."   Most
of the rough stuff I picked up over the five years of researching and
writing the book is only suggested.    
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #47 of 128: David Gans (tnf) Wed 3 Mar 99 20:17
    
Heh!  I don'[t mind your saying so.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #48 of 128: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 4 Mar 99 17:19
    
So Carol, were there things you came across in your research that you
left out of the book, stuff that you will talk about here? I'd love to
know what *extra* stuff you got that you couldn't fit between the
covers.
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #49 of 128: Dave Waite (dwaite) Fri 5 Mar 99 11:59
    
Hi Carol.
Greetings from Chicago,
This book has reminded me of the caos that was prevelent during the 60's
outside of the midia blitz of 'Dinner with viet Nam'.  Your insights to the
courses of Freedom and how it affected those around and not associated with
the Grateful Dead has me yearning for more writings.  I really enjoy your
style of presentation, Are you considering persuing a harder look at this
era uf unrest and freedom fighting?
  
inkwell.vue.29 : Carol Brightman
permalink #50 of 128: Harry Claude Ca (silly) Fri 5 Mar 99 12:01
    <scribbled by silly Fri 5 Mar 99 12:02>
  

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