Archive for the ‘Gratifying’ Category

We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness…

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

The celebrated poet Jane Hirshfield, a friend and cyber-neighbor in The WELL, posted a poem by Jack Gilbert following the announcement of his passing last week. The poem is titled “A Brief for the Defense.” These lines were especially powerful and important, to my eye and heart:

We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.

– Jack Gilbert

Jon Carroll’s Thanksgiving column

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

I love this one, every year.

“At Thanksgiving, all we have to worry about is whether we can wholeheartedly support A) roasted turkey, B) friends and C) gratitude. My opinions on these matters are unambiguous; I am in favor of them all.”

Cats: Jon Carroll’s, and ours

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Jon Carroll writes abut his two cats, Bucket and Pancho:

There are some parts of the cat deal they really don’t have down yet.

For instance, lap sitting. One likes to have a good lap sit with one’s cat. Although it’s impossible for me to sit in the cat’s lap, I do like it the other way around. Neither Bucket nor Pancho will sit in any lap. They will only rarely come close enough for a good rub.

They don’t purr very much, either. Sometime you can get the faintest hum from one of them, but it doesn’t last long. I’ll bet black cats know how to purr. Maybe I could just hire one for a week or so to give lessons.

Our late pal Hugo wasn’t entirely black – he had a white blaze on his chest, white hairs in his ears, and a few other pale ones here and there – but he would be easily mistaken for a black from above. Groucho is one of those white cats with black blotches. I used to say, “We have a black-and-white cat names Hugo and a white-and-black cat named Groucho.” And I would say, “Hugo is a black cat, but he’s not a black cat, y’know?” And people would know.

Hugo was the one who purred. Groucho didn’t make a sound for many years. Over time, she learned to purr. We believe she learned it from Hugo.

Hugo was, and Groucho still is, a cat who will sit in your lap. Groucho won’t stay for long, but she’s amenable to our form of affection, and/or willing to repay our providing of room and board by tolerating our (okay, my) insistence upon physical contact.

The youngsters are another story. Ringo and ‘Oli are littermates, nearly identical. They’re white with plaid blotches (if you look closely at the grey, you’ll see that there is a faint texture to the coloring). They are, for the most part, uninterested in our touch. At times they are quite resistant to it. When I pick Ringo up, he behaves like an autistic child, tensing up and refusing to make eye contact. ‘Oli a little less so, but it’s the same general mode. Both of them do appear to take the opportunity to look around and behold the world as it appears from their temporary perch six feet up, but they make it clear they aren’t enjoying it much, and they eagerly spring from my clutches as soon as they can manage it. And they do it without clawing, for which I am deeply thankful.

I think it’s because they’re rescue cats, and they were older when we got ’em. We got Hugo and Groucho on the same day; they are not related, but they were both very young when we got ’em. So they were accustomed from a very early age to being picked up, turned upside down, smooched on the belly, and smothered with human attention. Ringo and ‘Oli, I think, came into the world in unfortunate circumstances and didn’t feel as safe, so consequently they’re a little less trusting of the larger creatures who attempt to rule their world.

We are hoping Groucho will teach the boys how to purr. Well, we can hope.

BTW, we also think two cats is optimal, but when we went in search of a new cat to keep Groucho company in her dotage, we came upon an inseparable pair that we couldn’t resist. We’ll be back to two cats again all too soon, but we’re in no hurry. Groucho abides, and Groucho purrs.

Rita says: “I think they are entirely happy gazing at the world from their perches, many perches, and cushions, throughout the house. And they DO come and snuggle, sitting next to us, if not in our laps or with that single paw placed so sweetly on a leg or thigh as Hugo did. But yes, no to little purring.”

And I should also note that there are two black cats on our street who are quite friendly, rubbing up against the legs of neighbors and even total strangers, and even allowing themselves to be picked up.

The WELL abides

Friday, September 28th, 2012

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll is my friend and neighbor, here in Oakland and also in cyberspace. Here is his column about our online home, The WELL, which recently survived a major challenge and is now owned by a group of its users. We’re both hoping to bring some smart, articulate, curious, and generous people into the deep, informative, and constructive conversation we’ve been participating in for 25 years and counting.

One of the points of the Well is to test your hypothesis against the worldviews and life experience of others. People sometimes spend considerable effort researching their responses; that’s part of the social capital. Be a jerk online, and your social capital is reduced.

I hope you’ll read the whole column, and I hope you’ll consider joining the WELL. It’s been a great place for me to learn and laugh and grow, and we’re always happy to welcome thoughtful new people.

Jim LeBrecht profiled in SF Chronicle

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle has an article about Jim LeBrecht, sound designer at Berkeley Sound Artists. Jim is a good friend and one of the most amazing people I know.

The author is Edward Guthmann, also a friend. I was so proud to find them together in the paper today.

I knew Jim’s name from his years at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where I have been a subscriber off and on (mostly on) for more than 30 years. We met in 2003 when I was working on the boxed set All Good Things: Jerry Garcia Studio Sessions at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Jim’s studio is in the same building. I invited him to stop by for a visit and we hit it off immediately. Among the many interests we share, he’s a big ol’ Deadhead.

Jim and I have been working on a project together for several years, with no particular goal in mind other than the joy of collaboration. One of these days we’ll get it out into the world, but there’s a bit more work yet to do. We put our calendars together from time to time, and when we can match up a few clear days we’ll get together and do some creative work. He’s got a spectacular production system, an immense sound library, a warm and luminous personality, a gift for making things happen in the audio domain, and as big a heart as I have ever encountered. He’s a joy to be with, and the results are always great.

Nice letter from a listener

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Email from Doug White, posted with permission. He heard his friend Jason Rappaport’s guest DJ appearance on last night’s Dead to the World. (You can listen on the KPFA archive until April 4; the playlist is posted here).

Hey man. I’ve never written you before but I have seen you live at the Fillmore doing a poster room show before TLG for a Rex benefit. I loved your interpretations of the songs and I’m a fan for sure. I also love the Tales from the Golden Road on Sirius.

I never got to see Jerry live. It is something that I’ve regretted ever since I became a Deadhead in 1990. I was always saying “I’ll catch them next time”. Since I was living in Richmond, VA and relatively poor at the time it was difficult to be able to afford to travel. If only I knew about the scene and the unity of the Deadhead culture at that time. I am thankful I got to see so many Other Ones, The Dead, Furthur, Phil and Friends, and Ratdog shows since and learn more about my fellow Deadheads. I guess my point is that through your public appearances, gigs, radio shows etc…. I get to live vicariously through someone that was there when Jerry was there. For that I tip my bottle, I throw on some tunes and salute you.

Anyway the reason for my note is that I heard your broadcast stream with guest DJ Jason Rappaport and I loved the show. I know Jason (And Ethan) from the TLG scene and Jam Cruise and I had no idea those guys were such naturals on the radio. I thoroughly enjoyed your show and I appreciate everything you do for the Dead community and for charitable organizations. When I got to hear my friends do a radio show with you it was certainly one of my musical high-points this year. Jason did a great job and the show was a blessing during a hard work week for me. Jason and Ethan are two of my favorite West-Coasters and it is great that your common charity brought you all together to broadcast a great show for a fan like me.


“Forty Years So Far”

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Here is the poem that Laura Slusher gave to me last night. I read it on the air.

Forty Years So Far
(dedicated to David Gans)
by Laura Slusher
December 7, 2011

This personal story of love and true fun
Goes back to 1971.
That’s when my long, strange trip was begun.
Didn’t dream it would be a forty-year run.

I hadn’t yet heard, even late in November,
Of the “family” of which I’d soon be a member.
My life was to change on the seventh of December:
With love, light, and songs I clearly remember!

Before school it was dark out, and I’d hated to get out of bed.
But hate changed to love in the afternoon, when my friend approached me and said,
“Guess who’s playing tonight at Felt Forum: New Riders and then Grateful Dead.
Life is too short to do homework, let’s go to the city instead.”

There was little to lose so we hopped on a train,
We got off at Penn Station, into cold wind and rain.
The show had sold out, staying there seemed insane.
But by rushing back home we had nothing to gain.

Each time I yelled, “I need a ticket,” inside I would grumble and cuss.
Hours later, a man in a trench coat made the following offer to us,
“Gimme ten for each five-fifty ticket, and tonight you’ll see what’s all the fuss.”
I sat in the 12th row for the 6-hour show, and claimed a permanent seat on the bus.

Went to surprise shows like Gaelic Park, and to shows of great renown
Like the huge and legendary Watkins Glen and exhausting Englishtown,
Then came west for Winterland’s last, and settled in Oakland, the jewel in the crown.
Where the music never stopped, until tragically, I heard the bus broke down.

In the morning on the ninth day of August in 1995.
A friend called my office to tell me Garcia was no longer alive.
I thought no more Dead, no more joy, didn’t think any of us would survive.
But the music was in us, and much was done toward helping the Dead culture thrive.

I’m grateful for all the hearts and souls, the work of many hands,
The faith and Deadication of musicians, technicians, and fans.
For keeping the bus wheels turning, the credit is not just one man’s,
But I dedicate my poem to just one, and his name is David Gans.

For my 40th GD anniversary, I decided that a very good way
To acknowledge the special event in a valuable, meaningful way
Was to donate forty dollars to listener-sponsored KPFA.
And please note, it’s in David’s honor that I make this pledge today.

A sweet end to a wonderful day

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

I walked into the phone room a few minutes ago and saw the name of an old friend on a pledge card that was being filled out by my friend Robert. It’s Frank Kracher, who I met in 1985 when he was a reporter for Channel 7 News in San Francisco. He’s in Asheville NC now, still a reporter (and weekend anchor). Robert handed me the phone and I caught up with Frank after not having spoken with him for a couple of years.

Its been that kind of day here. So many friends trooped through this Marathon, in person and on the phone and in the chat room and in email and in the online pledge messages – and via an internet audio stream! So sweet, and such a good result for KPFA: we raised more than $25,000 today. Thanks to all my friends, and to the friends I haven’t yet met, for making this a true EVERYBODY WINS event.

Henry Sidle’s bar mitzvah mitzvah

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

At this year’s Gathering of the Vibes, young singer/songwriter Henry Sidle, who’s been inspired by the Rex Foundation’s work, performed his original composition “The World As It Could Be” and was interviewed by GOTV performer and longtime Rex supporter David Gans….

From the Rex Foundation’s web site:

Henry learned about the Rex Foundation because of his love of music, particularly that of the Grateful Dead. In April, having heard about the Foundation’s recent release of “The Wheel – A Musical Celebration of Jerry Garcia,” Henry checked out the Rex website and learned that Rex was started by the Grateful Dead. He then decided to approach the Rex Foundation to see if he could help raise funds and visibility for Rex as the community service component of his Bar Mitzvah project, suggesting, as one idea, doing something at Gathering of the Vibes, a favorite destination. Upon learning about The World As It Could Be Project, Henry enthusiastically decided to have the Project be his community service focus.

Henry is a talented young man, and he delivered a lovely and heartfelt musical contribution to Rex at the Gathering of the Vibes. Here are a story and audio clip of Henry’s presentation/performance.

KPFA Grateful Dead auction winners!

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The auctions have ended, and here are the winners:

“Jerry on Broadway” poster: Spreadhead Breck, $375
Photo by Jay Blakesberg: Nick Fletcher, $140
Photo by Bob Minkin: Neil Samuels, $200
Photo by Jon Sievert: Brian Stegner, $400
Bocanova gift certificate: Celeste Ambrose, $100
Postcards of the Hanging: Eric Eichorn, $80

Jerry Garcia I by Mark Erickson:
Peter Thompson, $125
Jason Rubinoff, $125

Jerry Garcia I by Mark Erickson:
Robin Russell, $350
Josh, $300

Hartman envelope filter
Jafar Thorne, $250
Jim Francis, $251
DiscoFreq, $220

A total of $2916 for KPFA. That’s great!

A wonderful Wavy Gravy story

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

From Jack Radey, who heard my interview with Wavy Gravy on the radio last night (posted here with his permission):


I heard the name Denise Kaufman mentioned tonight, and just wanted you to know that Denise was one of those arrested at Sproul Hall in December, 1964, as part of the Free Speech Movement, was a member of the WEB DuBois Club in Berkeley, and was about the cutest person in the Free Speech Movement. When the cops arrested her, she went limp, like a lot of us, but the cops for some reason thought it would be fun to dislocate both of her elbows.

I have got to see this movie [Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie] (hasn’t come to Eugene yet I think).

I only had one encounter with Wavy, though no doubt we were in some of the same places at the same time. Mine was during the spring of 1985. I had been one of the three FSM veterans who had been central to putting on the 20th Anniversary gathering of the Free Speech Movement, a week long series of events. Mike Rossman and I had been thinking along the lines of stirring up the campus, in order to have troops to throw out into the streets when Reagan invaded Nicaragua, which looked likely in the near future. Well, dig up the ground, spread some bullshit around, sow some seeds, and… what sprang up in the spring but the Anti-Apartheid movement! We giggled a little, but were quite tickled at this development. It’s not like we were taking credit for it, but felt like proud grandparents.

Any rate, at some point, I forget the details, the cops decided to move in on the encampment on the steps of Sproul [Plaza] to haul the people away. I believe they hauled them first into Sproul, then out the back and put them in a bus. A bunch of us were standing in front of the bus, witnessing the treatment of the arrestees, and I noticed an older guy (I wasn’t the only greybeard present) with a clown nose and green coveralls on. Great, I thought, just what we need in a tense situation, a clown. The cops were freaked out. They were campus police, mostly pretty young, and they had learned their jobs during what must have seemed like The Big Sleep. Like in 1964, they were bumped-up traffic attendants, sheep dogs who were used to herding docile sheep, who one day woke up and discovered the sheep had turned into wolves. They were shitting their britches collectively, and a very nervous woman lieutenant was trying to figure out how to get the bus out from behind Sproul and away, and there were about 50 of us in the way showing some sign of not being willing to move.

Then the clown nose walked over to the bus, folded his arms and sat down in front of its right front tire. The lieutenant knew who he was, “Oh no, Wavy, don’t do this, please don’t do this, come on!” The students, whose education had not included watching non-violence in action in the Civil Rights Movement all during their formative years (these poor deprived kids missed ALL the good stuff), didn’t know what to do. The cops dragged Wavy out of the way, and then tried to drive us away. I had a ball, being an old hand at street dancing with the repressive arm of the bourgeois state, standing in front of the advancing police clubs saying loudly and calmly, “Officer, are you trying to tell us to disperse? Why don’t you talk to us instead of swinging that club, come on, didn’t your mother ever teach you it’s not nice to hit people? Why don’t you take a couple of deep breaths, no one here is threatening you, you can’t make good decisions while you are all panicky and excited like that…” All the while backing as slowly as I possibly could. The poor cops were getting more and more flustered. If I’d had 20-30 old timers we could have stopped the damn thing, but the kids were mostly screaming and getting out of the way, no one wanted to sit down.

Wavy was lovely, though. Reminded me of a few older Quaker ladies I know, who get all excited and happy at the possibility of getting arrested…


“I Remember” – a must-see video

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Many thanks to the great San Francisco musician Steven Strauss for this link.

We’re all in this together

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

“We must come to see that the well-being of our own individual children is intimately linked to the well-being of other people’s children. After all, when one of our children needs life-saving surgery, someone else’s child will perform it; when one of our own children is threatened or harmed by violence on the streets, someone else’s child will inflict it. The good life for our own children can only be secured if it is also secured for all other people’s children. But to worry about all other people’s children is not just a practical or strategic matter; it is a moral and ethical one: to strive for the well-being of all other people’s children is also right.”

Intellectual Emergencies: Some Reflections on Mothering and Teaching, by Lilian G. Katz, Ph.D., and Stephen Katz

(Lilian G. Katz, Ph.D. and Stephen Katz are my aunt and cousin, respectively. I learned a lot from this book, about teaching (my wife’s profession) and about my family. A quick and entirely worthwhile read. The music is very good, too!)

Benefit for Mike Cogan (Bay Records)

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I have worked at Bay Records several times over the years, and Mike was the engineer on Might as Well: The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead. The list of great records – jazz, folk, and other – to come out of Bay Records is huge and stellar. And on top of all that, Mike Cogan is a kind and generous man.

If you can’t attend the show, please consider making a contribution anyway. Contact me for the address.

FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE (Benefit Concert for Mike Cogan – Bay Records)
Yoshi’s Oakland – Jack London Square
Saturday, May 15, 1:00 to 4:00 pm

Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers
The John Santos Sextet
Leon Oakley’s Friends of Jazz
Clairdee with the Ken French Trio
The Anton Schwartz Quintet featuring Wayne Wallace
Ed Reed and his trio
Nika Rejto
Joe Gilman
and others TBA

For the past 38 years, Mike Cogan has operated Bay Records in the East Bay. It is the number one recording studio in the Bay area for acoustic recordings of all kinds: folk, blues, and jazz, among others. Recently Mike has major health issues that have greatly diminished his finances. Consequently, a diverse group of Bay Area jazz stars will donate their time and talent to a fund raising concert, For the Love of Mike.

Tickets: $20.00 – 510 238-9200
Yoshi’s Oakland:

More info on this Facebook page.

And if you can’t attend, please consider sending some money. Contact me for the address.

Please help “Saint Misbehavin'”

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Posting for Michelle Esrick, director of this wonderful film that needs to be seen!

Hello dear friends of Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie,

If you have made made a pledge on – WE THANK YOU! Please read this email for the exciting update.

As you may know we are gearing up for our theatrical release soon. As you may also know we cannot release the film in theaters until we pay off the remainder of our licensing fees for the incredible music and archival footage you have seen and heard in the movie. If you are receiving this email, it is because you have expressed your love and support of this film and would like it to reach a wide audience.

One of the ways we are raising a portion of the funds we need is through We set a goal to raise 25,000 by May 7th. So far we have $14,483 pledged to our project from 106 backers!!!! Here is the cool thing about Kickstarter…. THIS PROJECT WILL ONLY BE FUNDED IF AT LEAST 25,000 IS PLEDGED BY MAY 7th, 11:59 AM EDT. WE HAVE 10 MORE DAYS TO REACH OUR GOAL! IT’S ALL OR NOTHING – LET IT BE ALL!

Here is our direct link to our kickstarter project:

If you love this movie and want to see it reach a wide audience, please consider making a pledge. If you have made a pledge, we thank you and ask you to invite your friends, facebook friends, twitter friends and even the old fashioned way by calling them. As independent filmmakers who do not get the backing of a big Hollywood Studio – We count on you to help us get out the films you care about. We could not do this without you!

Thank you for helping us reach our goal – to spread the magical message of this Wavy Gravy – of love and hope and keeping our sense of humor – WE can make a better world and have fun doing it!

Please call if you have any questions or comments or just want to say hello.

Michelle Esrick

David Becker

D A Pennebaker
Executive Producer