Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Saw this column in Jewish newspaper a few days ago- thought some might appreciate it-

Friday July 13, 2007

In a shop in Jerusalem, I was taught about the Dead

by jerry stevenson

I was one of those late bloomers in finding my love for the famous San Francisco rock band the Grateful Dead.

It was 1980, and I was 38. I had opened my store, Mr. T, a couple years earlier in Jerusalem. I suppose I liked mainstream rock ‘n’ roll, but I loved classical music more. Mozart, Schubert, and Handel filled my musical day.

Led Zeppelin and Springsteen were there too, but a Verdi opera was always on the tape machine in the store.

Then along came Stu.

Stu literally came in the store off the Ben Yehuda mall. It was just before Passover. We were playing the Dead, by chance, on our tape player. He heard it and came in. When I told him I knew nothing about the 1960s group, he spent the next 27 years of our lives filling me in.

Stu adored and worshipped the Grateful Dead. He was a classic Deadhead: he traveled with them during their early years. He married his wife on the road, had a few kids along the way and followed Jerry Garcia everywhere.

In the 1930s or ’40s, Stu would have been considered a hobo, a bum or a drunk. Today, he was just a homeless alcoholic living on the fringes of society.

He divorced his wife and left his kids behind. He made his way to Israel and brought hundreds of bootleg Grateful Dead concerts with him. In the many years I was his friend, he lived in doorways on Jaffa Street, shacks in Rachavia, rooftops near the Western Wall, bus benches on King George Street, Independence Park, abandoned buildings near the Old Jerusalem bus station and a few psychiatric hospitals.

He drank whatever kind of booze was around, from cheap wine to revolting vodka.

Over the years, I tried to help him numerous times. It was always useless. He never listened to my advice, so instead I gave him material items like sleeping bags, blankets, jackets, money and radios. Everything was stolen from him, including his most precious possession, the bootleg tapes he had brought from America.

At Mr. T, we wound up listening to the Dead every 45 minutes. It was Stu’s influence. He became the store’s official greeter. He was there when the celebrities came in, and he was there when the down-and-out wandered in.

Stu was 10 years younger than me, but he looked 30 years older. As the years went by, he lost most of his teeth. He was always dirty and smelled of booze and urine. His hair was a tangled, matted disaster. I’d give him a shirt and he would wear it for three weeks straight, never taking it off until I gave him a new one.

Most of my employees couldn’t stand being near the guy. Tourist families walked in, took one look at him and walked out. But many others came in just to talk to him and be entertained. This was definitely a novel marketing concept.

Stu’s presence made the Mr. T store in downtown Jerusalem the Grateful Dead mecca of the Middle East. Deadheads from all over the world would gather, and Stu was there to greet them. This lasted nearly 30 years.

Stu died in his sleep, two weeks before I closed Mr. T. He was 55 and his liver was like a sieve. As I write this, I’m listening to the Dead. And, yes, it has been a long strange trip. And yes, I will miss Stu. He certainly made going to work and opening the store every day a fun adventure.

Thank you, Stu, for giving me a “real good time.”

Jerry Stevenson is a former Bay Area resident and former owner of the Mr. T store in Jerusalem, which recently closed.

To see another article from a different issue that may be of interest (Jewish Hippies) can be found at Click for TYEDayenu!


Ooooh! Cleveland Dog pictures! Click here to see!

Cleveland Ratdog review by Piper!

Hey Now Fellow Doggies-

Where to start? First, on Sunday, we took Jeff, AJ and Donnie the Bus Driver golfing at Shady Hollow. Nice course, Jeff can really play. So, we tear it up a little bit, then head back to C-Town for some grub. The sushi bar was closed so we head over to Houligans. Before we get there, Jeff and I are out front of the hotel, Jeff turns around and standing there is Les Claypool. I'm like holy shit. We go over to Les and then we see Stuart Copeland dragging Sting over towards us. Stuart is like "Sting, This is Les, the guy who was in Oysterhead w/ me." Then Sting goes around the circle intoducing himself to us all. He gets to me and is like Hi, I'm Sting, and like Hi, I'm Billy. So freaking gay.

We go over to Houligans and just start pounding, Donnie the bus driver is telling all of these tour stories about Joe Walsh and John Entwhistle, Sabbath, Ozzy, James Taylor, freaking good stuff. We stumble back to the hotel and party down a little more in the back of the crew bus. Nobody is feeling any pain, we call it a night and I have the dreaded drive back to Akron. Good times were had by all.

Show day- Get to the venue, pick up the passes. Surprise, I got two VIPs, which let you go pretty much anywhere. So the wife and I watch from the side of the stage. I couldn't believe how packed that place was w/ the Indians game and the Police show.
Jam Golden Road---very nice, Kimmock can really play man. He has that Garcia quality about him
Jack Straw--loved it
some stuff, Easy to Slip-Suplication-Easy To Slip---man this band is on fire. Kimmock preasence is so seamless---
Lazy River-usually not one of my favirotes, but WOW, Kimmock killed the solo, band is really groovin.
Big RR Blues was smoking--rip roaring and Bobby snortin

Short break for a smoke on the river and some cold brews
KC Moan--nice
Friend of the Devil--I like the traditional arrangement, starts to get blurry here.
Victim was so phat--electric. Haven't seen it this way in a while. Bobby has an accoustic, Robin is on the stand up bass just dropping bombs. Kimmock is so sick. His guitar was really raunchy and viscious in this one. Did I mention that this band is really freakin good.??? The wife and I are just danicin away on the side of the stage, what a great time.
Getting fuzzier---
Even So-October Queen-The Deep End--
Things were getting phat and dark and fuzzy. We caught this suite at Penns Peak, and I remember everyone just losing any momentum they had. People were bitching about it, I was yawning, but I still think it was because of all of the stress of driving in a blizzard trying to get there. Last night was a totally different feel. The band was right in the pocket, Bobby was bluesin it up big time. Jeff really shined through these three. Kenny was really good too.

I look over and Keller is getting geared up, he steps out and ut oh, West LA Fade Away!!!! It was so sloopy and jazzy and nice. The band was really hitting it in all of the big chords and pauses. Did I mention that Kimmock is sick?
Stuff was real up tempo, Keller and Kimmock had a nice thing going, but Jeff stayed on the Korg. A Fender rhodes type of sound. He was up on his feet banging on the keyboard, he was goin off.

Bobby decides to give us a breather and play Wharf Rat.
It was so right, Kimmock was just killin it, the notes just seemed to drip out of his guitar, then those note would sprout wings and take flight bringing the whole thing into a frenzy, then pop. Back to the old raunchy guitar. This guy is sick. Absolutely beautiful.
GDTRFB!!!! First time for me and Amy and I were just dancing our asses off. Good stuff man.

E?: Gloria!!!! The last time I saw this was in Denver, Dec 1992. Bobby did this one justice. He was rippin and snortin and spittin up a storm. The crowd was great, into everything, the band was rested and right on time. Great Freakin Show!!!! Bobby left us screaming for more.

Partied til the bus left for Columbus.

Special thanks to AJ for keepin the cooler full of beer!!!

Off to Columbus, will give another review tomorrow!!

Later Dae Ya'll

A Rare and Different Tune!