More than a few times in my life, I have found myself in relationships with really great guys who are also hardcore Deadheads. Hard to believe, yes, but it can happen to the best of us. Over the course of these otherwise happy relationships, I was often subjected to the unimaginable multi-sensory torture that is a live Grateful Dead concert. I was never able to really grok the attraction to this band of profoundly unattractive men that played meandering, soporific and somewhat dissonant music. Then one night at Madison Square Garden, a certain vital ingredient that had been missing from all previous Dead concert experiences was thrown into the mix. Finally, at long last, I “got” The Dead. Since that time, I have been much more tolerant of The Grateful Dead and its vast legion of unwashed fans, because “China Cat-Rider” is awesome.
Love them or hate them, there is no denying that The Grateful Dead is a legendary band that made an indelible impact on rock music; not just aurally but visually and socially as well. Through July 4, 2010, The New York Historical Society (located at Central Park West and 77th Street), presents a very fun exhibit, Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New York Historical Society, which I strongly recommend not just to Deadheads but any fan of rock culture. While the exhibit is smaller than I was lead to believe, Geoffrey and I really enjoyed looking through the displayed archives of vintage concert posters, tickets, backstage passes and assorted memorabilia as well as a fascinating collection of psychedelic, hand-drawn fan art collected by members of The Dead over their lengthy career. It was also surprising to learn about how The Dead revolutionized live concert sound with the invention of their “Wall of Sound” monitor system. Grateful Dead tunes are piped into the room as you browse the exhibits and I actually found myself digging the music in a nostalgic, comforting way. Oldness!
Geoffrey never had the chance to see The Dead, as Jerry Garcia passed away on the very day he purchased a ticket for one of their upcoming concerts. Crazy. While I thought that the $12 admission price was a little steep for this exhibit alone, we did venture up to one of the higher floors, where a mind-blowing collection of antique Tiffany glass lamps made the trip uptown more that worth it. Afterward, we walked a couple of blocks over to the American Museum of Natural History (free admission provided courtesy of my day gig), where we spent the remainder of a very rainy afternoon gleefully enjoying the Dinosaur bones and my personal favorite, the Hall of Ocean Life. Have a great weekend, everybody!