Tag Archive: Grateful Dead


Meet the baby of the family, the unexpected/unplanned baby of the family.

This coming Saturday, Pi Day, the mathematically inept, right-brained baby will “celebrate” the successful navigation of 60 years on the planet, and look forward to hopefully plenty more.kmb2

Much has changed since the decade of Ike, Elvis, Disneyland, Sputnik, U2 (not the band) and “Senator, have you no sense of decency?”

The author of Almost DailyBrett has always been a tad vertically challenged; in time became follicly challenged, and still vows to never-ever be horizontally challenged. Looking forward to Saturday’s cross-training with Nike+, charting the results.

Tempted to mimic a lyric, “Oh, what a long, strange trip it has been,” but I was never into that kind of “trip.” When it comes to sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, always been a big fan of the first, still dig the latter (never was a Dead Head), and never understood the appeal of the “medicine.”

Baby Boomers are supposed to wax nostalgic for the 1960s and the demonstrations in the streets of Chicago and arrests on the quad at Berkeley. What the heck happened to your author? Instead, he pleasantly recollects the 1980s, when he tied the knot for the first time, became a father to Allison, when it was Morning in America.

California even balanced its budget, raised zero taxes and maintained a $1 billion for emergency. Almost sounds quaint when compared to today’s oceans of red ink for our children’s children to pay. Yep, the 1980s worked; they always will; historical revisionism be damned.

Come to think of it, during my life a Wall went up in 1961 (“Ich bin ein Berliner”) and it came down 28 years later (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”). O.J. sliced up UCLA’s defense in 1967 and Nicole Brown a generation later.

Nothing has ever been permanent, particularly disco, hem-and-tan lines.

Brady Bunch Neighborhood

Growing up in lily-white Glendale, California in the age of Hogan’s Heroes and the God-awful Brady Bunch, your blog writer will always be grateful for those priests and nuns who taught writing, reading and literature. They also transformed me into the rotten Catholic I am today with their unique combination of arrogance, boorishness and corporal punishment.

Sorry to say Padre, you were wrong: Mary Magdalene was not a whore.

There was the bitter divorce of 1967, but with it came life-long lessons about how to and how NOT to treat the fairer gender. Monogamy with a special one is best; you should try it and stick with it, fellow hombres.ibmselectric

My love of writing began at eight-years old, the very same year in which the school loud speakers told us about the death of a young president. This same infatuation with the pencil, pen, IBM Selectric, work station, PC, and now the mobile device continued as man walked on the moon, a president resigned, our diplomats were held hostage for 444 days, and planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Growing up, always thought that Nixon’s first name was “Damn.” Came to appreciate that Tricky Dick and Slick Willie were spot-on names for my least favorite presidents. Thankfully, Nixon abolished the draft. There was no ‘Nam for me, University of Oregon instead.

The Earth Shook

Eventually graduated from the University of Southern California with a Rose Bowl ring and no loans. Yes I was fortunate, but a long career laid before me. Cut my teeth covering the Proposition 13 tax-revolt earthquake in 1978. Toured the Soviet Union in 1981, seeing the Evil Empire and its grip on people up close and personal. Recruited to serve as the press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee the following year. We won the governorship of California at 5 am the day-after-the-election. We recorded the biggest landslide in blue state California’s history four years later.

Sacramento has two seasons: Hot and Cold. Served as the Governor George Deukmejian’s press secretary as the earth shook San Francisco (e.g., Loma Prieta Earthquake). Was told “The Bay Bridge is in the Water.”  Whew, it was not true, even though the Cypress Structure mysteriously came down.cypressstructure

Next was trees, owls, chips and Japan, which led to the fifth most famous person from Liverpool, Wilf Corrigan, and LSI Logic. Saw the Internet bubble rise and inevitably it exploded, resulting in seven rounds of layoffs and a company on the brink. We survived and yet it was time for Wilf to retire … The world moved on to social, mobile and cloud.

Faced mortality twice, first with prostate cancer and then with Valley Fever/Meningitis. Fought off the first and battled the second to a draw, and yet it was my first wife, Robin, who lost her battle to cancer. Life is unfair. Life is fickle. Life is finite.

Attained the so-called “Holy Grail” of public relations, vaunted agency experience with a life-changing side-effect; subbing at Santa Clara University. Could I teach at the college level, maybe even at the school that caused time to stop with “Kenny Wheaton is going to score; Kenny Wheaton is going to score”?DSC01171

Accepted a fellowship to the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and earned 15 months later my master’s degree. The attainment of a second career was complete with a full-time instructor position at UO, and now a tenure-track assistant professor gig, teaching public relations/advertising/corporate communications/investor relations at Central Washington University.

And best of all, the author of Almost DailyBrett turned his attention away from his blog long enough to survey the field of contenders on Match.com. The result was a love affair with Jeanne, fireworks on the Fourth of July, and trips in the little green chariot. Next up is our long-overdue romantic honeymoon to Bavaria and Tuscany, Mad King Ludwig’s castles and Under the Tuscan Sun.

I am one lucky dude.

Today, I am inspired by Mick and Keith at 71, Ronnie at 68, and geriatric Charlie at 73 on worldwide tour. To use more than a few metaphors, there is still plenty of gas in the tank and the engine continues to rev every morning. It’s pedal to the metal time.

“Oh what a long, strange trip it has been.” Looking forward to continuing the ride with the top down and my few remaining hairs flowing in the breeze.DSC01421

 

”It sounds so California. I can’t imagine Idaho having a task force on self-esteem.” — Dr. Roy Christman, retired San Jose State University political science professor

There is no pocket veto in California.

Even though the president can simply stuff an unwanted and undesirable piece of legislation in her or his pocket and forget about it, the California Constitution does not provide that same luxury to the state’s chief executive.

When a bill emerges from California’s Havana-esque one-party Legislature, the governor must either sign it, allow it to be chaptered into law without signature, or veto it with a mandatory explanation message.

Serving in the press office of California Governor George Deukmejian during bill signing in 1986, I was searching through stacks of legislation for the veto message for Assemblyman John Vasconcellos’ self-esteem bill. The governor had vetoed previous iterations of the bill calling for the state to examine the impact of self-esteem or more precisely, the lack of self-esteem.vasco1

Where the heck was this year’s veto message?

Assuming that something was missing, namely a veto message, the author of Almost DailyBrett picked up the phone and called our Legislature unit asking for the constitutionally obligatory why-this-is-a-bad-bill language.

“Ahh … you better come down and see us.”

Are you serious?

Never Assume; You May Be Wrong

Earlier iterations of the Vasconcellos bill called for the creation of an expensive statutory commission with permanent bureaucracy and oodles of high-priced staffers to study and re-study the linkage between the lack or loss of self-esteem and bad things in society (e.g., crime, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, jaywalking … ).

Governor Deukmejian campaigned repeatedly on controlling the “size and scope” of state government. A brand new expansion of state government, namely an eternal self-esteem commission, was not consistent with the governor’s philosophy or rhetoric.

To his credit, Vasconcellos did not retreat from his notion of studying the promotion of self-esteem, but he did drop the idea of a statutory and permanently enshrined Commission on Self-Esteem. In its place after meeting with Governor Deukmejian, he amended the bill to make it a task force on self-esteem, which would issue a report on the subject and then move on into the sunset.

The 1986 bill the governor actually signed, officially created The California Task Force to Promote Self-esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility. There was no veto message, but there was a ton of media coverage.

Man Bites Dog Story

George Deukmejian signing (the late) John Vasconcellos’ self-esteem task force bill was a consummate man-bites-dog story.deukmejian2

My boss, Governor Deukmejian was the counterculture to the counterculture. His biggest vice was jamoca almond fudge. He was from sleepy Long Beach. In contrast, “Vasco” was Mr. Touchy Feely or Mr. Warm and Fuzzy, if you prefer. He was from liberal Bay Area.

It was not rocket science to predict that our press office land lines would light up (no cell phones or Internet back in the Pleistocene). “Let me get this right, George Deukmejian just signed Vasco’s self-esteem bill … Ahh … the same bill he vetoed at least twice … Has the governor been listening to the Grateful Dead?”

There is little doubt that Vasco was familiar with Jerry Garcia and not just for his line of ties. Yours truly never asked the Duke about “Truckin,” Jerry Garcia and The Dead.

After the bill was signed, the governor’s office received a flood of applications to serve on the task force. Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame had a field day in the form of series of cartoons about the state’s seemingly wacky self-esteem task force, particularly reinforcing California’s stereotype for those east of the Hudson.selfesteem

The task force was just one more metaphor to add to the notion that all the fruits, nuts and berries flow toward the left coast. Yep, this is the place where highly educated, rich people from Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and (of course) San Francisco Counties don’t vaccinate their kids, and hippy-style natural childbirth is just so natural until the pain kicks in.

After three years the task force issued its report, which reportedly set a state document record with 60,000 reading its conclusions. The task force examined the linkage between self-esteem crime, violence, academic failure and responsible citizenship.

Looking back nearly three decades to Governor Deukmejian signing Vasco’s Self-Esteem Task Force bill, public relations professionals need to always be on guard against drinking their own bath water (e.g., believing their own rhetoric).

Just as important, we should refrain from automatically predicating and assuming. Circumstances change. Bills are amended. And every once in a while, man actually does take a bite out of Bowser.

http://articles.latimes.com/1991-01-24/news/mn-989_1_task-force

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/10/11/us/now-the-california-task-force-to-promote-self-esteem.html

http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED321170

http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2014/05/30/californias-self-esteem-commission-was-not-a-joke/chronicles/who-we-were/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/01/22/vaccine-deniers-stick-together-and-now-theyre-ruining-things-for-everyone/

 

“Sure, we’ll do a free concert, why not?” – Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.

“I mean, like people, who’s fighting and what for? Why are we fighting? Why are we fighting? Every other scene has been cool…” – Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger at Altamont.

altamont

As the Rolling Stones take the stage this evening in London’s O2 Arena to mark the 50th year as the greatest rock n’ roll in the world (if not the greatest of all time), there is no way in all this celebration to erase easily the darkest day in the band’s history.

Watching the two-hour HBO special last week, Crossfire Hurricane, and YouTube video clips, one is simply stunned by the brutal savagery of the 1969 free concert staged in a demolition derby track in a God-awful part of California’s East Bay at a horrible time of the year.

Every time I have driven along I-580 between Livermore in eastern Alameda County and Tracy in California’s Central Valley, I think about 300,000 people traipsing along the rolling hills of the Altamont Pass. I also think about how incredibly cold it becomes once the sun goes down in late fall.

Why Altamont?

And why in early December?

Obviously, one can Monday morning quarterback an event that occurred 44 years ago and say how you would do it differently (if at all). Still Altamont is a reminder of the compelling need at times to use the most important two-letter word in the English language: “no.”

Reflecting back to December 6, 1969: Nixon was in the White House. The napalm was defoliating jungles in Vietnam for no certain purpose. Woodstock was a recent “triumph.” The Rolling Stones were completing an incredibly successful U.S. tour (e.g., “Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out”).

Stonesya-yas

Why not give back to the fans with a free gig to compensate for charging a then outlandishly expensive $7.50 a ticket for all of the other Rolling Stones shows?

The more important questions that should have been asked were: where, when, why, what, who and how? Another question: Is no free concert better than a free concert that has the potential to turn disastrous and deadly? That particular question needed to be asked by organizers, law enforcement and in particular, the tour management and even the five-members of the Rolling Stones.

And why in hell were the Hells Angels hired for a truckload of beer to serve as the police force for 300,000? Who was in charge anyway? The simple answer: No one.

Reportedly, the free concert was going to be held on a practice field for San Jose State’s football team, but the City of San Jose was not keen on this idea. Then it was going to be staged at Golden Gate Park, but the proposed event coincided with a San Francisco 49ers home game at Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park (e.g., Stones and NFL football fans in the same weekend). No Tumbling Dice.

The next possible venue reportedly was Sears Point Raceway, but the owner wanted $300,000, plus the movie rights to the event that was going to include Carlos Santana, Flying Burrito Brothers, CS&N, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and the Stones.

Two days before the show, the Altamont Raceway was suggested. All that needed to be done was to build the stage (as it turns out: only four-feet off the ground in the bottom of a gully) and manage traffic, logistics, security, sanitation, first aid and provisions for 300,000 intimate friends.

No sweat.

What’s ironic was that Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead proposed the Hells Angels as the security force. When they heard that the violence-prone motorcycle gang had parked their Harleys in front of the stage as a “deliberate provocation” (the words of Keith Richards) and policed the crowd with sawed-off pool cues, they decided to skip the gig and went into hiding.

Four people were killed at Altamont; four were born and hundreds were stabbed and/or beaten up. The only recourse left to the Stones was to threaten to not play until the violence and ugliness stopped. Was that really an option? As they noted in Crossfire Hurricane, they were surrounded, frightened and had absolutely no control over neither the crowd nor their Praetorian Guards, The Hells Angels.

Stones Jagger And  Richards  Eye  Hells Angels At Altamont

According to Stephen Davis’ book, Old Gods Almost Dead, the national media ignored Altamont. “Time and Life, still rhapsodizing about Woodstock, didn’t mention it. The New York Times ran a small story in a late Sunday edition. Newsweek ran a piece three weeks later…”

Certainly, the Stones have not been immune to controversy and screaming headlines during the band’s history (e.g., the drug busts). They have survived it all and stayed together (at least three of the original five) and relevant for five decades and counting. Their brand and legacy is still tarnished by Altamont. Having acknowledged their unprecedented accomplishments one can conclude: Altamont was a chapter in their story that didn’t need to be written.

Somebody, anybody needed to simply say, “No.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt0ipUCfdlU

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-music-rollingstones-pix-tv-update-1l4n0950bn-20121125,0,633285.story

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Raceway_Park

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Free_Concert

http://www.squidoo.com/altamont-speedway-free-festival-1969

http://www.hells-angels.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praetorian_Guard

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