Saturday, May 19, 2007

Thanks to Scott's friend Johnny, we made it to Wavy's (and Seva's) big bash last night. No Bobby, but great to see so many Bay Area people out. Hippie Bill was the only Ratdog crew at work. Somewhere along the way I had a conversation with Steve Kimock. I was pleased to discover I'm not the last person in the world that feels they could be starstruck if I had a chance to talk to Patti Smith.
The 60's can be a little foggy.
Here's a look back by David Knopf from

I was in St. Louis to move my daughter home from college when her roommate popped in a Grateful Dead CD.

Packing and moving seem to go better with the meanderings of a band that gave us “Truckin’.”

During a break, I thumbed through the liner notes and saw guitarist Jerry Garcia in a familiar T-shirt. There were photos of him in the same shirt on several pages.

It was vaguely purple (the lighting wasn’t great), the letters across the chest seemed vaguely orange, and the letters spelled out … Anthem.

Nothing vague about that.

Anthem of the Sun was a 1968 Dead album, and Anthem was the alternative newspaper my friends and I published at Clark University in 1969. Clark had a student-funded newspaper, but we regarded it as establishment, staid and boring, which, I might mention, it was.

We named our paper after the Dead album, then printed prankish purple and orange shirts with numbers on the back and Anthem on the chest. Mine was No. 22, a tip of the cap to “Catch-22,” Joseph Heller’s anti-war tome of the Vietnam era.

Thirty-seven years after making those shirts, I see Jerry Garcia wearing one on the liner notes of a Dead CD. This was a small blip on the cultural radar screen, but significant to me, nonetheless.

We’d made only five or six shirts, and it’s very possible I gave Garcia mine because the band played at our school in April 1969, the same year our paper came out. I don’t remember giving Garcia my shirt and will probably never know if I did.

I scanned the photos for my college alumni magazine and attached some background on this slightly significant sighting.

Two or three days before I saw the two-inch blurb about the Anthem saga in the alumni mag, e-mail started arriving from hither and yon. The blurb mentioned — not my idea — that “David Knopf would love to hear from classmates at …” and gave my e-mail address.

The mere reference to the Dead touched a nerve. It’s how important the band — and the movement — were to people at our little college.

I heard from alums I knew well, from people I should’ve known well and had forgotten, and from people I didn’t know at all.

Someone from the Class of 1983 wanted to know the name of the Dead CD. Someone else wrote to tell me about a streamed recording of the Dead at Clark on, of which I was already aware.

Some of the e-mails were personal. I received one signed “J” from a person who told me she’d adopted a dog of mine named Sam, which I had no recollection of whatsoever.

She didn’t mention her name, but said she’d cleaned up a lot of horse manure in her day and, along the way, written a book about horse breeds. Using that tidbit and a last name culled from her e-mail address, l learned that “J” stood for Judith.

This was getting embarrassing.

Someone else wrote to say she’d hung around with me, a friend and someone named Judy one summer. Judy, she said, was my girlfriend. Hmmm.

I wrote back, ’fessing up to the Sam and Judith ignorance, and learned that Judy and Judith might not be the same person.

My wife said it was OK to forget a dog, just not a girlfriend. I trust her judgment on these things.

A professor wrote to say he’d like copies of Anthem and a T-shirt for the college archives. He sent me a copy of the Clark history he’d written and I wrote back to say I’d send him copies of our newspaper.

A friend who worked for the Dead wrote to say he still had his Anthem shirt, but didn’t want to part with it.

He sent a photo of the shirt, which helped me settle one thing: he didn’t give Garcia the shirt off his back. It might’ve been me.

I’d forgotten Sam the dog. I’d forgotten Judy the girlfriend and Judith the horse expert. I’d forgotten a lot.

Forgetting a shirt wasn’t nearly as bad.

Reach David Knopf at 816-234-7730 or send e-mail to