Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Berkeleyside Covers the OLLI Course on the Dead

So grateful to Berkeleyside, the award-winning news site, for running a piece on my Grateful Dead course at UC Berkeley's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Natalie Orenstein, who graduated from Berkeley High in 2009 (!), did a nice job on the story.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ralph J. Gleason and the Grateful Dead

My forthcoming book on the Grateful Dead has a lot to say about Ralph J. Gleason, who covered music (and the San Francisco music scene) for the Chronicle. He also wrote for Ramparts magazine until he became so infuriated by Warren Hinckle's depiction of the hippies that he resigned and co-founded Rolling Stone magazine with his protege, Jann Wenner.

Gleason's son Toby allowed me to digitize a family photograph of his father. I just received it today. It shows him with Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh at the Monterey Pop Festival, which Gleason also cofounded. Please enjoy it responsibly.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Grateful Dead Sign with UMPG

The Grateful Dead signed a deal with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), which will handle global administration of the Dead's songbook.

UMPG traces its history back to the Music Corporation of America (MCA), which was cofounded by Jules Stein and booked musical acts in and around Chicago during the Capone era. Stein's granddaughter now runs The Nation magazine.

Stein hired Lew Wasserman, who was Ronald Reagan's agent and eventually ran the company. He was considered the king of Hollywood for many years. His best friend of five decades was Sidney Korshak, who was the Chicago mob's lawyer and a fascinating figure in his own right. MCA acquired other companies and eventually merged with Universal Studios. Comcast bought NBC Universal from GE in 2009.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Review of The Invisible Bridge

My first book review at The National Memo. This is the third volume in Rick Perlstein's epic history of the modern conservative movement, and his achievement is very impressive. I wouldn't say he has any special insight on California political history, but if you like that material as much as I do, this book is excellent grist for the mill

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Branford Marsalis on Playing with the Grateful Dead

This material is too late to include in the book, but I relished Branford Marsalis's reflections on playing with the Dead in 1991. Lots of mutual respect along with the virtuosity. And in the Wall Street Journal, no less.


Friday, August 29, 2014

The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs

Truthdig posted my review of Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs today. It was my good fortune to attend a book event last week at Pegasus, where I met the author for the first time. I also picked up the poster--actually, four copies, three of which I'll send to the book's editor, Steve Wasserman, at Yale University Press. This book was Steve's first acquisition there, and I'm glad it's getting a great reception.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Victoria Beckham Rocking the Dead T-shirt at LAX

Happily, the accompanying article explained everything: "The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California, who were best known for their unique and eclectic style."

Next line, perhaps, of this hot scoop: "Located 35 miles south of San Francisco and 14 miles north of San Jose, Palo Alto is a community of approximately 63,000 residents."

On second thought, I'm for whatever it takes to teach a little history. If it's a Spice Girl T-shirt, so be it.

The Spice Girls were a British pop girl group formed in 1994.


The Eagle Has (Almost) Landed

The advance reading copies for the book arrived this week. St. Martin's Press moved up the publication date to January, and I'm still collecting blurbs and photo permissions. But we're getting close.

In other news, I've organized a related class for UC Berkeley's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). It will meet once a week for six weeks starting Wednesday, October 1. Nick Meriwether, Rosie McGee, Blair Jackson, and David Gans have already agreed to share their wisdom on all things Dead. If this class isn't fun, we're not doing it right. More information at www.olli.berkeley.edu.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Books I Have Known

Not much blogging lately for three reasons: paid work, including the Grateful Dead manuscript; book-reviewin' for Truthdig; and Facebook--so many kitty cats, so little time!

Let me focus on the first two reasons and draw the curtain of charity before the third.

The Dead MS is in production. Now I'm working on the photos (and permissions), chit-chatting with the publisher's lawyer about legal concerns, reviewing cover concepts, etc. This week, I also had a chance to discuss some of the content with Joe Hagan, who's in town to research his biography of Jann Wenner. The publication of that book will coincide with Rolling Stone's 50th anniversary in 2017. From all indications, it's going to be fabulous. It was also a pleasure to visit with Joe, whom I met in the most serendipitous manner--a story for another day, when the kitty-cat traffic is less intense.

In related book news, it appears that Toby Gleason will publish an anthology of his father's writings and private papers. For my money, Ralph J. Gleason was one of the coolest cats on the Bay Area scene during the 60s and 70s. In addition to mentoring Jann and co-founding Rolling Stone, Gleason wrote for Ramparts, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Down Beat magazine; wrote all of Lenny Bruce's liner notes; championed the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane; and was the only music journalist on President Nixon's Enemies List. Very excited about that project, too, and glad I could help conceptualize it.

The Truthdig reviews are an intermittent pleasure enhanced by carefully chosen assignments. The last review was of Matt Taibbi's The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap. That one was picked up by AlterNet, and when I last checked, only the New York Times review had drawn a larger online audience. The one before that was Dean Starkman's The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism. And the one before that was Curtis White's The Science Delusion: Asking the Big Questions in a Culture of Easy Answers. To my surprise, that review won the 2013 National Entertainment Journalism Award for Online Criticism. All of my Truthdig reviews can be found here.

OK, enough about that. Back to serious kitty biz.


Monday, March 03, 2014

Terrapin Redux

Lots to report since my last post, including another visit to the Grateful Dead Scholars Caucus in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was the usual good time, and I took away a dozen or more gems for the Dead book. I also had a chance to visit with Rosie McGee and Rhoney Stanley, who attended the conference for the first time. Both have memoirs out (Rosie's Dancing with the Dead and Rhoney's Owsley and Me), which I reviewed at Nick Meriwether's request for Dead Studies.

Another benchmark: I submitted my manuscript to St. Martin's Press this weekend. I also met my editor, Marc Resnick, for the first time. The book is now scheduled for publication in Winter 2015--about this time next year.

Marc was in the Bay Area for a book party at Terrapin Crossroads last night. The book is Alan Paul's One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band, which will debut in the top ten this week. I had a chance to meet Alan as well as Jay Blakesberg, who took photographs, and Benjy Eisen, the Rolling Stone contributor who's working with Bill Kreutzmann on his memoir.

This was no ordinary book event. Alan plays guitar, too, and he joined Mark Karan (RatDog) and the house band, American Jubilee, for a set of blues numbers and "Goin' Down the Road Feeling Bad." Everyone had a great time, and we all wish Alan (and Marc) continued success with the book.