Sep 30, 2012

May 1973: State of the Dead


How the Dragon Urobouros (Giga Exponentia) Makes Us Go Round and Round

We've received 25,000 letters to date from Dead Heads, telling us your trips, and ideas and questions and comments about ours. Whatever the voyage, the current concerns are at least real, and this newsletter is a report on the state of the ship.
The pursuit of quality presentation of our music, with more and more people wanting to hear it, has led us into larger and larger halls with an ever-increasing array of equipment. St. Dilbert calls this process 'Urobouros':
Configurations of speakers and amplifiers change almost as rapidly as we move from gig to gig. The equipment diagram shown overleaf is a schematic of the set-up at Kezar Stadium, San Francisco, 26 May 1973 (auxiliary PA's and mid-field delay towers to reinforce the sound at the back against wind, are not shown).
You are one million Dead Heads who attend the concerts. In the New York City area, given the space, we will draw some 50,000 people. As your numbers increase in each area, we play larger and larger halls. The apparent alternative to this is a kind of riot. We are musicians.
The physics of sound projection dictate that any given increase in the size of a hall requires an exponential rate of increase in equipment capability to reach everyone in the hall with quality-at-volume.

1965 -- 800 lbs ---- Bill's station wagon
1967 -- 1300 lbs --- Barney's van
1968 -- 6000 lbs --- Metro van
1970 -- 10,000 lbs - 18 ft truck
1973 -- 30,000 lbs - 40 ft semi

We're growing! - some 30 people now on payroll. We're affiliated with Alembic in San Francisco on design, research and development of equipment and recording. Our rehearsal hall in San Rafael is the center of acoustic enquiry and equipment maintenance/development. Our office here manages, controls finance, accounting, insurance and the like, and Ice Nine Publishing Company (copyrights, licenses, songbooks) and Dead Heads. Out of Town booking agency and Fly By Night travel agency, two outgrowths of our scene, are in the building.
By the nature of the beast, the energies of over a hundred directly enter our endeavor. Urobouros turns his circles. St. Dilbert is a bombast. Let's surface the moon with an electrostatic spherical tidal spatial counter-entropic sound system. Energy spoken here.
On earth, our overhead expense is $100,000 a month. In 1972 we grossed $1,424,543. Here's who ate the pie:

The Grateful Dead Dollar (1972)
Salaries 27%
Road 27% (22% Road Expenses, 5% Agency)
Equipment 18% (14% Purchase & Maintenance, 4% Support)
Office 17% (2% Overhead, 2% Dead Heads)
Tax 8%
Operating Profit 3%

70% of this income came from gigs, and 30% from record royalties. Gigs offer the only means to earn more money when it is needed to maintain our operation in all its particulars. We cannot sell more records at will, but we can go on the road, within the limits of energy: so that we must play larger halls, with more equipment, and a bigger organization, requiring more gigs.....
St. Dilbert calls this fellow 'Urobouros', and he's a good trip, but he has a mind of his own:

Greater Demand --> Larger Halls --> More Equipment --> Bigger Organization --> Larger Overhead --> More Gigs --> [repeat]

We like a variety of concert situations. Ambiance comes in different sizes. We like a small hall, and so do you, and an outdoor gig in the sun, and a large hall when it can be made to sound good (few halls over 6000 capacity aren't sports arenas with novel acoustic and environmental puzzles).
Urobouros is hungry. How do we control him? We've planned for a year to form our own record manufacturing and distributing company so as to be more on top of the marketing process, package and promote our product in an honest and human manner, and possibly stand aside from the retail list-price inflation spiral while retaining more of the net dollar (keep a tight ship). If the records cover a larger share of the overhead, then the concert situation becomes more flexible. This is the working future - possible, in the direction we see to go, now. We want this freedom to achieve gig variety, to experiment. We are musicians.
What else might do? Write and suggest it. Magic ideas welcome. Dead Heads altogether, too - what might we do with it? What might you do with it?
Your mail is an energy input, 400 letters a week that we tack on bulletin boards and read aloud and pass back and forth. The drawings ('DH') in this issue are yours. This flow enters the common pool of plans and theories and ideas and speculations and fantasties and hopes and fears and futures and galaxies and stuff.
To hear from you, furthers.

"Having been born into a world of rather curious values, values apparently unrelated to the direct experience of human truths, the Bozos and Bolos hypnocratically pursue a direction of self-determination in as many ways as interestingly possible, believing that this course will best aid a continuation of integrity and meaning in their music and other life spaces. This has meant that their business activity seeks to be in control of as many areas as become possible, employing their own people to do the work that would otherwise be farmed out to straight business. Thus there is the possibility that the message in the music can be reflected in the manner and purpose of conducting the business necessary to get the music heard."
- St. Dilbert, Bombast

Next Release:
'History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1: Bear's Choice.' Live recordings of 1970 vintage. Warner Bros. July Release.

Hunter Album:
Robert Hunter has written the material for his own album and recorded it with Liberty, a Bay Area band. To be released.

(from the May 1973 Dead Heads newsletter)

1 comment:

  1. This was also included in Dodd/Spaulding's Grateful Dead Reader, along with the charming illustrations, and a followup collage of reader replies printed in the next newsletter.

    This was written by Alan Trist, head of Ice Nine Publishing Co. Like many in the Dead scene, he went way back - he'd been friends with Garcia & Hunter in Palo Alto, and was even in the car crash with Garcia in '61.
    Willy Legate wrote the "St Dilbert" quote. (Another member of the old Palo Alto group, he also wrote the Europe '72 liner notes.)

    I will not attempt to explain the newsletters' obsession with hypnocracy & St Dilbert, except that it seems to be a direct link between the Dead scene of the early '70s and the Palo Alto scene a decade earlier.
    Robert Hunter doodled "some pretty basic tenets of Hypnocracy" for one newsletter:
    "When asked the meaning of life, St. Dilbert is said to have replied, 'Ask rather the meaning of hypnocracy.' When asked the meaning of hypnocracy, St. Dilbert replied, 'Is not hypnocracy no other than the quest to discover the meaning of hypnocracy? Say, have you heard the one about the yellow dog yet?'"
    And so on...