March 21, 2010

Local Angle

Two recent articles bring the Grateful Dead to mind.

One, in the New York Times, reports on a exhibit of Grateful Dead related memorabilia culled from the enormous archive of just about everything that passed through the band's office down the decades to be stored by Ellen Law, the perfectly postioned pack rat who worked for the band. Others may have advised her to off the stuff, but she remained undaunted down the years, resulting in the accumulation of an enormous archive which is now the property of the University of California Santa Cruz Library. The current exhibit at the New York Historical Society is culled from that collection of stuff.

The second article can be found in the Atlantic Online, and is titled, "Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead," and in fact resolves toward the end to a discussion of the curiously effective practices that eventually made the Grateul Dead one of the most profitable enterprises in the history of popular music. For the most part, though, the article is an examination of the gradual rise to a begrudged sort of respectability of the scholarly study of the Grateful Dead, a branch of inquiry that threatens to turn into a permanent field now that UC Santa Cruz has created a locus for the orderly interment of the band's cultural remains.

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