Dick Picks the Wetlands
Audience Member: Dick, How do you decide between say, Stanley Theater 27th and 28th?
Dick: No, no problem there. Because 9/28 was one I got from Kid when I first met someone in The Grateful Dead in ’79 and I coaxed him out of that show, and I gave it to five friends who I thought would never give it out and then and of course, we know what happens when you give a tape out to a Deadhead taper. I mean let’s discuss the phenomenon of tape collecting and trading. I mean, do you rob your neighbor of his tape collection because he has it and he won’t give it to you? Is he an idiot for having it and not giving it to you?
What I think Dick is referring to here is an incident known as The Honeymoon Tape Theft Apparently, David Gans, host of The Grateful Dead Hour and author of Playing in the Band, returned from his honeymoon to find that someone had broken into his home and robbed him of some uncirculated reels of shows from 1972, specifically Paris, 5/3 and 5/4. These reels were on loan to him from Dick Latvala for use on The Grateful Dead Hour. Gans later found out who the thief was a neighbor and friend of his that had access to his home while he was away. The whole incident sparked much debate within the Grateful Dead taping community over whether or not this thief was doing wrong or, that he was freeing the music for all of us to hear.
Steve: Now Dick. Wait. Wait. Wait.
Dick: No one is owed anything here.
Steve: Now Dick, let me just say something. Out there on the west coast there all these weird little tape trading wars and what not. But out here on the East Coast, I think, tape trading is pretty much a purely good thing. (audience cheers) You know, there’s not this same kind of bitching about who has what.
Dick: Do you really think that’s real?
Steve: I do, I do, I do. I think its true. I think it’s true.
Dick: No shit! That’s real? Ok. I don’t know that.
Steve: It’s a real community thing out here.
[I agree with this observation, but I feel there are some egos on the east coast as well. For example, on this same night, I was the DJ. A member of the band Border Legion came into to DJ room and asked me to play a DAT for him. I asked what was on it and he said it was very rare, uncirculated stuff. I also asked him if I could copy it and he said, no. I asked him why and he kind of avoided answering. Why did he say no? Probably because he had something that no one else has. This must make him feel important or something. If I had that tape, I would be copying it for all of my friends. Why should this guy get the pleasure of hearing this wonderful music, but no one else. It’s not HIS music! He didn’t make it! The Dead allowed taping so everyone could enjoy THEIR music. Spread the music!!]
Audience Member: What about the early days of taping?
Steve: Stu is the man
Stu: It was like the stone age. Equipment wasn’t good, people didn’t have tripods, there wasn’t a taper’s section, batteries would run out, tapes were, you know, you had little reels to reels that would basically get garbled all the time.
Dick: This is before Sony 152, that portable deck.
Stu: And, you know, at any time you could have your stuff confiscated. The attitudes were not, you know, so loose; not from the band so much, but from the arenas and from the security forces and things like that.
Dick: We could tell stories about how people snuck decks in!
Stu: There’s great stories in that Taper’s Compendium book that got written. They interviewed a lot of the real early tapers.
Steve: Birthday cakes. People hiding decks in birthday cakes.
Dick: Hey, I think someone cut out there stomach and put a deck in it.
Dick: Oh, wheelchairs is guaranteed.
Audience Member: Was Steve Parish the arch villain?
Dick: For me personally? Lets ask Stu! I’ll give my account.
Stu: You wouldn’t want to catch him in a bad mood.
Steve: Ya, you wouldn’t want to catch him in a bad mood.
Dick: I’ve been scared of him ever since I met him. And then I had to get to know him because of this QVC thing, and we became what you call quote unquote, friends. And ah, we went to dinner and talked. And I said, well, I can’t tell if he’s lying or putting on phony thing like he’s done all his life or is he real? I’ll just play it like he’s real and I’ll go with it. And so, I don’t know. He’s a beautiful guy, man.
Steve: He’s all right! He loved Jerry.
Dick: Listen. Anyone that has a beef with Steve, you’ve got to understand man, think about it, your Jerry’s guy.
Steve: Jerry wouldn’t have kept a stupid guy around! He’s a smart guy!
Dick: Oh man! Do you know Jerry said, “Ya, come to the show man. Come to the show. I want to see you!” and then showtime, Jerrys not in the mood to see someone. Well he tells Steve, get ‘em out of here. So Steve appears to be the bad guy, all the time. So, everyone, caution your judgment of Steve Parish, man. He was Jerry’s guy. And I forgive him for any sins because of that. Because its a monstrous responsibility.
Steve: I think that one book that has not yet been done would be an oral history of the crew (audience agrees). There must be so many stories.
Dick: Ya, you bet. Ohh you wouldn’t believe how many great stories, oh God! Steve Parish. If you could get him with a micro-mini-cassette while he talks for, for ten thousand years, he’ll tell you stories that will boggle your mind. Books could be written right off the top of the deck. Just transcribe the interview. He’s told me stories that boggle my mind! You know one day, in ’71, I believe it was, he said, ‘man we were at a show in some college and this dude, he was real buff and strong, he got an attitude and went up and grabbed Pigpen’s organ and held onto it and wouldn’t let go (Dick laughs). And it is the middle of a song. And he was creating a scene. So Parish and them had to deal with it. This guy was so strong, it took, it took four to six, including Hell’s Angels no doubt, to maul this mother fucker to get his hands off Pigpen’s organ. I mean stories like that. That’s pretty strange stuff you know.
Audience Member: What are your five favorite Grateful Dead Concerts?
Dick: That’s a crazy question. What month? I mean, what year?
Audience Member: What is the most essential concert for a tape collector?
Dick: Just look on the Internet, anywhere, and Deadheads will tell you. I mean, I am not some exclusive knowledge person.
Steve: Whichever one is most essential is whatever mood your in that day.
Dick: Ya, well I’m the fall guy. I mean, I’m a gathering point. I don’t determine and say, this has to be this. I submit things and I’ve been rejected so whimsically over the years. If anyone wants to thank me for anything, just thank me that I didn’t dive under that truck. That I didn’t jump off the bridge 30,000 times. That’s the real goods man. Any of you know what should be released.