inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #26 of 110: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Sat 23 Nov 13 18:20
    
Great to have you here on the WELL, Rosie. Loved your book when it
came out in the e-version and just ordered a couple of hard copy
editions for seasonal gifts. My favourite of your photos is Garcia in a
Nudie suit.

There is often reference to a "group mind" in discussion of how
improvisation worked for the Grateful Dead. Did you experience
telepathic interactions? Did you have access to a group mind?
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #27 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Sat 23 Nov 13 21:32
    
Thanks for your comments and questions, Robin.

If you'll all excuse an obvious and excruciating pun, those are loaded
questions! I'll do what I can to answer them, although words may fail
me. 

I believe that the group mind in place between the band members was
something that NONE of us - no matter how close we were, how high we
were, how connected we FELT - were truly a part of. Yes, on a given
night, we were all connected by that incredible magic when everything
lined up just right. But I believe that the band members experienced
something several levels above the rest of us, as they flew through the
musical changes to the outer cosmos, and always, somehow,
miraculously, found their way back to the "one".

From my vantage point onstage, dancing within that circle of musical
energy contained by the amps, I could swear that yes, I repeatedly
witnessed the telepathic interactions between the band members. But did
I have personal access to their group mind? No. The critical missing
piece was that I was not making the music - just dancing with it. (The
use of the word "with" instead of "to" is deliberate.)

This in no way negates the transcendent group mind that manifested
when all of us in the hall - the band, the crew, the family, the
audience - experienced a good night of music together. Now, THAT was
something I did have access to repeatedly, and is something I will
never forget because it is simply a part of who I am.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #28 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Sun 24 Nov 13 06:15
    
What was the phrase?  The ONE is where you think it is?
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #29 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Sun 24 Nov 13 06:56
    
Never heard that before, but sounds about right.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #30 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Sun 24 Nov 13 06:57
    
(I think that phrase is from an interview with either Jerry or Phil
that I read years ago, specifically about those miraculous returns from
the outer cosmos.)

Did any other bands inspire the same necessity to dance for you?
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #31 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Sun 24 Nov 13 07:22
    
This question comes via email from Beth Carroll:

"If you're still interviewing Rosie, I'd like to know what it was/is
like for her *as a woman* to be an insider with the Grateful Dead. I'm
curious about the gender dimension of the Dead and how she interprets
that."

 
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #32 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Sun 24 Nov 13 09:56
    

("The 'One' is where you think it is" was said by Jerry in a 1981 interview
with Blair Jackson and me, later published in my book "Conversations with the
Dead.")

<27> is a beautiful post. Says it so well!!
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #33 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Sun 24 Nov 13 09:57
    
Interesting question, Gary. Although I certainly didn't always sit
still during those earlier times when I saw the Byrds and other bands
play live in North Beach, I don't remember dancing as being that
compelling a 'need'. Keep in mind that dancing wasn't permitted in some
venues due to an archaic San Francisco statute that was eventually
repealed after a public outcry that you couldn't dance at The Matrix,
Marty Balin's club.

Certainly, the introduction of psychedelics into the mix had a major
influence on my need to dance, as well as my introduction to the Dead
being at the Acid Tests - where dancing was not only permitted but for
me, the only thing there was for me to do.

But it was once we returned from L.A. to the wide open ballroom scene
in San Francisco, that dancing took on its importance in my life. We
were so insanely lucky to have access to that diversity of bands who
played the Fillmore and the Avalon every single week! And yes, I danced
to all of them, all night - or as long as my energy would allow.
However, my experiences dancing with the Dead were always head and
shoulders above all other dancing, for reasons I probably don't have to
explain.

And for Beth Carroll: Chronologically, the Dead moved through two of
the most Chauvinistic environments that ever existed - the
Hippie/communal scene, and that of being rock-band road warriors. The
hippie Chauvinism was much more benign than in the more well-known rock
scene; but still, the women did the 'women's work', while the men
depended on them to provide the comforts of home. 

To be fair, in the Dead's early days, we (the women) never thought of
that as being put-upon. The band's and crew's work provided the money
for our scene to function, and we all did whatever we needed to do to
support the effort. We were one big group of friends who just 'got it
done', and we had a great time doing it. So what that some of what it
took was doing laundry or making dinner? 

If a woman among us had a particular skill or did something noteworthy
outside our scene, she was accorded a bit more respect. And within the
scene, women who contributed work, such as Betty Cantor-Jackson and
Candace Brightman, were in a different category than 'the girlfriends',
but part of their personal deal was to become 'one of the boys'.

Complicated question with more aspects than I can cover here.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #34 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Sun 24 Nov 13 09:57
    
Thanks, David.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #35 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Sun 24 Nov 13 10:45
    
Two new question, both via Facebook:

Tommy Heck asks "What type of camera and film did [you] use for [your]
photographs?  And thank you, Rosie ..."

and David Ryder asks "Are there any pictures of Phil and Billy's house
from the 710 era?  The didn't live at 710 I've been told."
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #36 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Sun 24 Nov 13 11:21
    
For Tommy Heck: The camera I most remember is a Nikkormat I shamed
Marmaduke (New Riders) into letting me borrow when I saw it, unused and
dusty, on the top shelf of his closet while I didn't have a camera.
Eventually, I bought it from him rather than return it. Film was all
over the map - mostly Tri-X for B&W, and Kodachrome & Ektachrome slides
plus Kodacolor print/negative film. I was schizoid about slides vs.
prints, as slides were cheaper to process but more expensive for making
prints from them.

For David Ryder: You're right. Phil and I, and at the time we moved,
Billy, his wife Brenda and their child Stacy, moved to a place up in
Diamond Heights. When we first moved to the city in '66, Billy and his
family had their own place, and Phil and I drew straws for choice of
bedrooms at 710. We lost the draw when Jerry and his girlfriend and we
got the front room to SHARE, with a painted Chinese screen the only
barrier between our beds. Not good. We moved.

I don't know of any photos of the place we moved to, but next time I'm
in the city, I'll try and find it and take a picture - if it's still
there. I'll post it on my public Facebook page.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #37 of 110: Robin Russell (rrussell8) Sun 24 Nov 13 14:18
    
Thanks Rosie. 

I re-wrote that question about the "group mind" a couple of times to
try to unload it a bit.

Everyone comments about synchronicity, and I am pretty sure that Phil
is talking about something more concrete than being in tune with each
other as a result of constant practice, like a great sports team, when
he uses the group mind analogy. I find it interesting that he also uses
the analogy of "five fingers on the one hand", with the implication
that there might be a single animating will. 

Garcia and other songwriters have said that the tunes are all out
there, you just have to be in the right space to access them and write
them down, implying there might be some sort of Muse that could animate
the five fingers. Alternatively, there could be a kind of telepathic
dialogue between the musicians where directions are determined
collaboratively, or there could be a direction set by one (or two)
dominant player(s) (who might vary from moment to moment).

I have run across several accounts from Deadheads that suggest they
were detecting the Grateful Dead group mind telepathically, or
sometimes individual minds. Wild times for sure, and worthy of further
investigation.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #38 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Sun 24 Nov 13 17:01
    
Nikkormat! I got one for my 21st birthday (with a nice fast f1.2 50mm lens)
for years.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #39 of 110: John Rottet (unkljohn) Mon 25 Nov 13 10:57
    

I borrowed a friend's Nikkormat FTn in college for a couple of 
months....it hooked me for sure. My first real camera after that was a 
Sears camera (say is that a real camera or a Sears camera???), but then I 
bought my own Nikkormat FT3 and then and FM and then.......
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #40 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Tue 26 Nov 13 09:11
    
Photographers tend to stay within one brand for a lifetime, and the
intensity with which they defend their brand is similar to the Mac vs.
PC passion with which so many of you are, no doubt, familiar.

In the beginning, we stick with our brand because we've invested in
that brand's lenses, which each have their own mount. But before you
know it, you just get comfortable with how a camera feels and the
location of the buttons, etc.

I got into Nikon by accident, with the Nikkormat I borrowed from
McDuke. Somewhere along the line I moved on to a Rolleiflex when I
dabbled with the larger 'medium format' film. I took some awesome
photos during that photo, but ultimately, the ease and portability of
35 mm won me back. Tried a Voigtlander for a while - great camera - but
I listened to the siren song of Nikon after a while.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #41 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Nov 13 09:46
    

BTW you can see Rosie's work at <http://rosiemcgee.com/>

She lived at the Grand Canyon for a few years, and she sent amazing photos to
her friends - some of which are on that web page.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #42 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Tue 26 Nov 13 10:43
    
Yes, some of those Grand Canyon pictures are wonderful.

Here re a couple of questions that are a complete changes in
direction:

One of the things that you don't touch on very much in the book (but
that is of serious -- even obsessive) interest to many of us who are
Deadheads is anything to do with the details of the music of the band. 
Enough that, at one point, you even mention dancing to one of your
favorite songs but don't actually say *which* song.

The early years are real black holes in terms of the documentation of
the actual music the band played, since there are so few recordings of
shows circulating (this is especially true of 1967 -- there are more
recordings even from 1966). Most of us assume, for instance, that they
must have played "Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)" more than the 2
or 3 times that have come down to us on tape.  And that there must be
many, many covers of songs by other artists that they played in those
days for which we have no record (I've seen reference to them playing
the Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe In Magic," for example, though
there's no actual record of it).

So, here's the question:

Do you have any particular memories along these lines?  Do any
particular songs -- especially from those very early days -- stick out
in your memories?

And another question: do you have, in purely musical terms, a favorite
period from the time you spent so closely to the band?  Or a
particular song that stands out for you?  

And how did the changes in the band's sound and style over time change
(if at all) how you danced?
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #43 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Tue 26 Nov 13 11:39
    
Wow. Well, I'm going to have to give this some thought and dive back
into that remembering state of mind I was in much of the time I was
writing my book. I'll get back to you soon with some answers.

As some of you know, I did not keep a journal, so my book was written
from my memories. Many people have asked me how I remembered so much in
such detail. My reply has come to be that you ALL remember more than
you think you do - it's just a matter of accessing those memories by
getting into whatever head space makes that work for you. It's all 'in
there', believe me. Not that I remember every single thing, as folks
have come up and told me stories that I was part of, asking me, "Don't
you remember??" Nope, not always.

Anyway, I'll be back to you soon with some answers. Thanks.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #44 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Tue 26 Nov 13 13:05
    
Just to toss this in ... it's not a question, but seems very relevant
to all of our discussion.

I'm sitting here this afternoon, reading a paper by my friend Stan
Spector, who is a philosopher very interested in dance and in how the
Dead MOVE us physically, and in this paper he quotes this, from Jerry's
1967 interview with Ralph Gleason:

"I think that we still feel that our function is as a dance band.  We
feel that our greatest value is as a dance band and that's what we like
to do.  We like to play with dancers.  We like to see it and really
nothing improves your time like having somebody dance."
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #45 of 110: David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Nov 13 13:12
    

I remember hearing  Mountain Girl, in a radio documentary, talking about
returning from Mexico (where Kesey was hiding out), seeing the Dead at San
Francisco State, and being surprised and disappointed to see more people
sitting and listening than dancing.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #46 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Tue 26 Nov 13 20:20
    
Okay, I'm back, ready to answer those questions about favorite songs
to dance to, with full disclaimers that, as in my book, I'm just
remembering what I can remember, and am not claiming to be an expert on
what they played and when they played it. 

That being said, yes, I think I remember their playing "Do You Believe
in Magic?" at least once. How do I know? Being visual-remembering more
than auditory, I closed my eyes and got an image of Phil rocking back
and forth and singing that particular song into a mic, with a big smile
on his face. Accurate? Not 100% positive, folks.

As for the earliest days and the songs I remember dancing to.... at
the Acid Tests, I danced to anything and everything, motivated more by
the level of my high and the endurance of my energy, than by which
music was compelling me to dance or sit down. However, I do remember
having a grudge against "Viola Lee Blues" back then, finding its
ponderous first and last sections a damper on my high - at least the
way they played it back then.

Once we moved into the ballrooms and the park, the environment onstage
drastically changed, and the first song that compelled me to enter
that magic circle of music onstage was "Cold Rain and Snow", which was
flat-out fun to dance to. I believe they were already playing "It's All
Over Now, Baby Blue" back then, and that one was a winner for dancing,
and is still one of my favorite songs. And occasionally, "Cream Puff
War". By '67, "Dancing in the Street" and "Golden Road" were standards
for getting me up to dance, sometimes to try and get people to get up
off their asses and dance with me/us. It drove me nuts to see people
sitting there in those early days.

With the exception of an occasional "Midnight Hour", during which I'd
stop dancing and sit down long before Pigpen had wound down to an
ending, I rarely danced to the Pigpen songs. I was much more interested
in watching/listening to him, or not. Alternately.

As the Dead moved into the more complex music and extended jams, I
guess around '68-'69, it was "St Stephen", "The Eleven", "The Other
One" and of course, parts of "Dark Star". The experience became even
more complex and engrossing for me, as they took on that musical 'group
mind' discussed here earlier, that I was privileged to witness from
that central location so close by. So during those songs and jams, I
sometimes left the stage and returned a couple of times during an
extended jam, as the spirit and the music moved me. Sorry folks, but
words are failing me on some of this.

And finally, as we moved into the early seventies, my choices of when
to dance had more to do with the rhythm and meaning of a song to me,
and less to do with how deeply psychedelicized I might be - as I had
somewhat eased up on that. It's also my favorite era of the 'simpler'
songs (of the earlier years) - "Uncle John's Band", "Sugar Magnolia",
"Bertha", "Brown-Eyed Women", "Not Fade Away into "Goin' Down the
Road", and later, "Eyes of the World". 

But for the sheer power of the deepest experiences I shared with the
Dead by being onstage dancing, I'd have to say it was around late '68
and through '69 with the long and complex jams.

I hope this has answered some levels of your questions, Gary.
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #47 of 110: Dave Waite (dwaite) Wed 27 Nov 13 10:44
    
wow - I'm exhausted just reading about all of your dancing!
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #48 of 110: Rosie McGee (rosiemcg) Wed 27 Nov 13 12:18
    
Hey, many times, when I ran out of energy and sat down, there were all
those dancers who stayed on their feet all night. So in the larger
scheme of things, I was a slacker!
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #49 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Wed 27 Nov 13 13:39
    
Sometimes, sitting down is dancing enough!
  
inkwell.vue.471 : Rosie McGee: Dancing with the Dead - A Photographic Memoir
permalink #50 of 110: Gary Burnett (jera) Wed 27 Nov 13 14:41
    
One thing I was surprised by in the book is the fact that Stoneground
(a band I always really loved -- the album released from one of their
live KSAN broadcasts is still one that I listen to regularly) was put
together by Tom Donahue.  Was there a sense in the community that they
were a "manufactured" band because of this?  Sal Valentino certainly
had a long tenure in the SF music scene.
  

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