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Dead, But Not Dead Enough; A Click Down Memory Lane

Wednesday, Sep 12 2001

Dead, But Not Dead Enough

We were in a pretty good mood last week. With fall fast approaching, it's a time for small thrills, tiny miracles, and modest joys in San Francisco. The tourists have scampered back to Berlin and Sydney and Kansas City, which makes an evening stroll down Columbus Avenue not only possible but even pleasurable. Barry Bonds continues his breakneck race to get traded to the Dodgers next season. "For Rent" signs bloom like graceful tulips around town, and Ken Garcia has been rewriting news that happened only last week, not two months ago. It felt like a new day in San Francisco.

Then we checked our e-mail. "12 CD Grateful Dead Box to be Released 10/16," the subject header said.

Twelve? That's one CD for every dead keyboardist who ever played in the band, right?

The Golden Road is an outsize collection of the outsize band's studio work, the result of countless hours of dredging the bottom of the Jerry barrel; that's every studio record the band made between 1965 and 1973, plus seven hours of the three words that make every Deadhead swoon: previously unreleased material. But after years of being bilked, bamboozled, and overmarketed, this may be the last straw for Dead fans who have been asked to buy the band's memories over and over again -- Bob Weir is selling barbecue sauce now, for heaven's sake. But according to the box set press release, the special tracks on the albums will be extra special. "Recently, we discovered material edited from the songs included in [the Grateful Dead's] debut album," says co-producer James Austin in the release. ""Good Morning Little School Girl,' for example, gets lopped off at 5:56. Included here for the first time is the extra 0:59 seconds of intense studio jamming."

Fifty-nine seconds! Intense studio jamming!

But in our distress over the absurdity of it all, we decided to take heart: The Dead juggernaut has been overhyped and overvalued just like every crackpot dot-com scheme that got office space two years ago. Indeed, there are signs of a downturn in Dead-land. Some quick investigations have shown that the market in Grateful Dead Beanie Babies has almost bottomed. Time was, the rare 1999 "Deaddy Bear" was selling for upward of $250; now no fewer than five languish on eBay for just $29.95 each. Other plush totems of San Francisco's grooviest anti-capitalists seem to be meeting with worse fates. Selling for a mere $4.25: Franklin, Irie, Esau, Doodah Man, Cassidy, St. Stephen, Peggy O, China Cat, Bertha, Sunshine, Uncle Sam, Haight, Ashbury, Pearly Baker, Bluesman, Stagger Lee, Daisy, August, Samson, Dupree, and Cosmic Charlie.

Again: That's 59 seconds of intense studio jamming, set for release on Oct. 16.
-- Mark Athitakis

A Click Down Memory Lane

As the tech sector's brutal recession wages on, the industry's gold rush of 1999 through the summer of 2000 is feeling more and more like the Cretaceous Period. And, as such, it's even earned its first museum., which once served as intelligence for launch-party crashers citywide, now boasts the " Party Museum," an interactive hall of nostalgia for the glory days of dot-com. The site is loaded with party pictures, "Web trash" profiles, and archived reviews of old events (complete with "freeloader ratings," a "hedonism factor," and cost estimates).

A sign of the times, for sure, but it pales compared to this: Site founder Patty Beron -- whose listings once inspired fear and loathing (and security expenses) among corporate party givers -- tells SF Weekly she is now being paid to promote bashes online.
-- Jeremy Mullman


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