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Frak? Yes i watch the Sci Fi Channel.
As I write this I am in Eugene Oregon all the way down at the end of the Willamette Valley. It’s part of the climate zone that is known as the Marine West Coast. In brief it has mild temperatures, little snow and is relatively wet. The scenery around here is absolutely beautiful. Lush green rolling hills and mountains opening up to the farmland of the willamette valley. This end is a little sunnier than the Portland end of the willamette Valley so there are even vineyards. Eugene is sometimes called the Emerald City. I always assumed cause it’s lush and green. But some locals think that it refers to the pot culture/industry prominent in the surrounding hills and mountains. The geography says it belongs to the land and people north of here, portland etc. Culturally it’s part of the proposed State of Jefferson. (see post #21 Hey Brett)That is the rougher poorer mountain culture of Southern Oregon and extreme Northern California. But the overwhelming hippy/alternative lifestyle/ college town vibe qualifies it as the cosmopolitan capitol of the state of Jefferson. But state of Jefferson nonetheless.
I’m very familiar with Eugene. I’ve been coming here for 25 years. And it has not changed in that quarter of a century. My old girlfriend was from here. Well sort of. It was one of the three places that she grew up. Three places on the very fringes of Civilization. Fayetteville Arkansas, Petersburg Alaska and Eugene Oregon. Eugene was and remains more of a slacker town than Santa Cruz ever was. I dare say it is one of the few slacker towns left in the US.
So Jennifer and her sister Heather showed up in Santa Cruz fully trained to live in a slacker/hippy/punker college town. Because they were from the mecca of slacker towns. They were like slacker Senseis. They were junk store Ninjas. Garage sale xiansheng, flea market virtuosos. They were Free-gan before it was a word. While I thought I was clever shopping at the thrift stores and wearing vintage rayon shirts and cowboy boots, they taught me that you didn’t even have to buy this stuff at the thrift stores. All you needed to do was just go and visit the Goodwill drop box after hours. Say 8pm. We weren’t technically stealing anything mind you. It’s just people would illegally leave there donations after hours outside of the Goodwill drop station. So there were always bags of clothes, rooster alarm clocks, fiesta ware knockoffs, and the occasional console stereo or couch to be dragged back to our dilapidated victorian. Jen and I lived in the attic. Accessible only by a ladder! Yet somehow we managed to get an amazing amount of stuff up into the attic.
One day Jennifer and I were determined to rid our attic of all our ironic ponchos, bowling shoes, embroidered squaredance jackets and eiffel tower curtains. We loaded up the 1968 Galaxie 500 (A great rock car! It fits an SVT cabinet in the trunk or and entire drumset and at 500 bucks way cheaper than a van). We dragged all this shit back to the Goodwill drop box. After hours of course. Then to reward ourselves we went out to dinner at our favorite mexican joint. When we got back we found her sister Heather and her boyfriend sitting in a pile of ironic ponchos, bowling shoes, embroidered squaredance jackets and eiffel tower curtains.
“Look at all this cool shit we found at the goodwill drop box!”
So back to Eugene Oregon. Cracker played here with the Grateful Dead. 3 shows in Autzen Stadium. We are talking U2/Stones size venue. The Grateful Dead on their home turf at the height of their popularity! It was 1994 and we were hot on MTV/Alternative and Rock radio. Our song Low was popular at the time and seemed to be talking about weed AND we covered The Jerry Garcia Band song The Loser. We also had our old fiddle player Morgan Fichter join us for a few songs.Hell yeah the Deadheads dug us.
BTW I’m often incorrectly corrected by Deadheads – “it’s called Deal man, The song is called Deal”. Usually in a very passive agressive manner. And this is kind of the theme of todays post . Passive agression. Passive aggressive or outright aggressive hippies. Would you expect anything less from a song called Don’t Fuck Me Up With Peace and Love.
The vast majority of Deadheads are/were mellow and quite affluent. But there was always a panhandling, cigarette bumming knife fighting underclass that followed around the Dead. And something about Eugene being right up against the wilder parts of southern Oregon amplified that contingent. When we were here for those three days in May 1994 I always felt like i needed to be on guard. A little more so than usual. This was not like seeing the dead at Irvine Meadows, or Shoreline. This was especially true because part of the time in Eugene we were tripping on mushrooms. But that’s another story.
We got to play with the Grateful Dead! That in itself is a milestone few bands have achieved. I always get a kick out the fact there are all these jam bands emulating the Dead touring around the country these days. And they never played with the Dead. Probably never even saw a show. But little ol’ cracker did. And I think we managed to play with the Dead not because we had a song that vaguely referred to smoking weed, not because we were on MTV and they needed a “current” band to round out the show. Not even the fact that we covered The Loser on Kerosene hat. (Although i’m sure that didn’t hurt.) I think we got the opportunity to open for the Grateful dead largely becausewe mined the same vein of american roots, folk and country that The Dead mined. Just in a different way. So someone over there thought their audience would enjoy us. Or at least not hate us. We had the same DIY Northern California ethic. And at least with the Robert Hunter penned lyrics there are certain vague similarities in the narratives, especially the reliance on “the unreliable narrator.” Check the lyrics to The Loser, or Wharf Rat. (It should be noted “we”includes CVB because shortly before CVB broke up there were informal inquiries about CVB playing with the Grateful Dead.)
Cracker Performs Loser at Mystic Hot Springs Monroe UT 2010.
I saw Jerry Garcia from afar the first day we played with them. I also saw him watching us from the side of the stage briefly. It wasn’t til the next day i met Jerry Garcia. I was waiting in line for the porta potty that was at the bottom of the steps to the stage. Who walks out of the porta potty but Jerry Garcia. Immediately friendly and warm grabbing my hand to shake and then holding it.
“oh hey man nice show yesterday, I love Eurotrash girl, such a great country rock song, people dont’ do that stuff anymore. mind if we cover it?”
“i’d be flattered beyond belief”. I stuttered and stammered as i answered.
20 seconds at most. And then he just wandered off.
I’m not making this up. That’s what he said. He observed what few have observed about that song. It’s all twang. The other thing about that conversation that was weird. At least on my part. The whole time he shook/held my hand i kept thinking “there is no sink in a porta potty”
In 1986 Camper Van Beethoven played in the venue we are playing tonight. The W.O.W. hall or Woodmen of the World Hall. Here again is a flashback to the the Anarchistic anti-authoritarian separatist past of this region. Not much different than a Knights of Columbus hall. But still unique in it’s own way. We were supporting the 10,000 Maniacs.They had managed to sort of screen part of the side stage off so that you couldn’t actually see Natalie Merchant approach the stage. Otherwise it was the same old WOW hall that had been doing reggae/punk and hippy shows for years.
This story like friday’s story also involves Jackson Haring, our manager 1986-2000. He grew up in the wilds of southern Oregon. Specifically Medford Oregon smack in the heart of the state of Jefferson.
Every story involving Jackson is usually funny. Not cause he was a clown. But precisely cause the guy was an audacious and smart guy housed in the (not unimpressive) frame of a cuddly hippy stoner dude.
At the end of Camper Van Beethoven’s set we had managed to fill the entire hall with fog machine smoke. We had come across and arena sized smoke machine a few months back. It was like SFO in July. You could barely see your hand in front of your face by the end of the set. Somehow in the chaos of set change over, someone had grabbed my delay pedal off the front of the stage. I mean like pocketed it. The fog had helped the sleazebag grab it. In 1986 a $200 dollar delay pedal was about the average monthly income of a family of 4 in southern Oregon (and half the CVB stipend). I flew into a rage. I ran backstage to find Jackson. Jackson was making a sandwhich from the deli tray. He calmly walked out of the dressing room and scanned the crowd. I don’t know if it was just that he was from the area but he seemed to know exactly what type of person he was looking for. He focused in on a group of three dudes. They looked a lot like Jackson. Fluffy hippy frat boy ne’er do wells. They aroused his suspicion even more when they quickly sat down on the folding chairs lining the walls of WOW hall. Jackson walked up to them and said. ”My guitar player is missing an effects pedal”. Like i said Jackson is kind of a big guy and I think he made one of them nervous enough that his eyes darted to his right. Jackson leaned down and looked under the seats a few feet away. There was my pedal. At this point i realized that Jackson still had the sandwich in his hand because he took the top piece of bread off and began methodically screwing/smashing the sandwich into the closest ones face. All the while staring the nervous one directly in the eye. Don’t fuck Jackson up with that peace and love bullshit.
After making sure that Jackson and I weren’t about to be beat with metal folding chairs I grabbed the pedal off the floor and darted back into the dressing room. Southern Oregon is scary.
Eugene Oregon 2010
Skip forward 24 years and it’s 2010 and we are playing in Eugene Oregon. The WOW hall of course. And again great place but a little passive aggressive. The show starts with a crazy hippy guy in dress shirt and tie yelling “you better be fucking worth it!” Wha? also what was up with the dress shirt and tie? Especially since the entire W.O.W smelt like body odor. As if the entire audience needed a bath. It was like playing a logging camp. So when the 82nd airborne is finished with their humanitarian effort in Haiti perhaps we can send ‘em into Eugene OR and have them hose down the entire population the way they do circus elephants. “Yeah and uh check their teeth while you’re at it.”
“You better be worth it!?” That is the rougher southern oregon mountain culture talking.
I’m pretty sure…. It should be noted that Eugene is also the second largest city in Oregon. It’s more urban and crime ridden than you would think for a place called the Emerald City. And with the gentrification of the formerly seedy Portland OR (remember drugstore cowboy) there has also been flow of portland’s port town seedy underlife back up the willamette river to Eugene. The hippy guy was from the mountains.
Now the punker/neck tattoo gang kids who were tailgating on the back of our equipment trailer in the parking lot of WOW hall were probably part of the portland backflow. The little pricks tagged our trailer also. I didn’t notice at the time or i would have gone inside and made a sandwich.
After the show i was out on the loading dock. A punker kid wandered by. He wanted a cigarette from me. I didn’t have any. He didn’t say “thanks anway” he says “do you know who the fuck has a cigarette around here”. I pointed up the street to some dark figures on the next corner. I was secretly hoping they were the thugs that were tailgating in the parking lot earlier. . He dutifully went off to ask them for a “fucking cigarette”. When it appeared that thee wasn’t gonna be an ass whipping i went back inside.
Which finger was Jerry Garcia Missing?
People in this part of the word say fucking a lot. For an area that has a reputation for hippies, PC politics and alternative lifestyles there is a lot pissed off cursing. You expect it in NYC. but here? And they do it twice as much. I shouldn’t single out Eugene. The same aggressive pan handling gimme some of yours culture is all the way down the coast, Eureka/Arcata, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz. Especially Santa Cruz back in the 80′s. A guy asked me for money once and i gave him the 17 cents i had in my pocket. he counted it and then threw it back at me.
I laughed heartily In 1996 when Bob Rupe Cracker’s bass player took a different tack. He told a panhandler in Santa Cruz ”i’ll give you a quarter for every push up you do.”
So you see what I’m getting at with Don’t Fuck Me Up With Peace And Love? Post Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker’s more rock more country persona allowed me to say “No, fuck YOU” right back. Like every reasonable thoughtful citizen of the northwest secretly wanted to do. I nor anyone else really believed all that peace and love bullshit that these hippy/punk street kids were spewing. It was nice to just get in their face and say “you know what I’m sick of your shit, you little shit so FUCK YOU”. It was quite liberating.
Camper Van Beethoven also wrote a tune called We saw Jerrys Daughter. She was rumored to have attended one of our shows in Eugene OR where she was a student. This was also around 1986. or 1987. We didn’t need it to be confirmed for us to write a song about it. This was camper Van Beethoven after all. I’m sure she is a lovely lady. No offense intended.
Reading back over this I’m not sure that i made it clear enough that I am a fan of the Dead. I only saw the Dead a handful of times, and I never really “got” the Dead until I was recording Key Lime Pie in Hollywood. Again with Jackson Haring. He came back to our apartment in Hollywood late at night. He thought i was out of town and he put on a mixed cassette of live GratefulDead and Jerry Garcia band. It woke me up but i remember that was the first time i really listened to the Dead carefully. When Loser played i got out of bed and asked him what record that was from. I of course scared the shit out of him cause he thought I wasn’t home. He may have been doing The Seaweed or the Sun-Grow. Anyway a few months later we started covering Loser with CVB. There are some versions on Archive.org. The Cracker version is far superior. Not taking sides or anything.
Don’t fuck me up with peace and love lyrics.
[C] Now here I am, the youngest old[G] man in the world
[D] Don’t mess me up by being[F] kind
Now here I am, I am the angel of Earth
Don’t mess me up I’m on a roll
Don’t[C] fuck me[G] up with[C] peace and[G] love when I[Am] haven’t[D] got it[Am] in me[D]
[C] Don’t fuck me up with peace and[G] love
[C] Don’t fuck me up with peace and[G] love (no don’t fuck me)
We Saw Jerry’s Daughter
[B] We were walkin’[G#m] down the road at ni-[C#m]-ght[E]
[B] We saw Jerry’s,[G#m] we saw Jerry’s[E] daughter
Now peace and love were all around
We saw Jerry’s, we saw Jerry’s daughter
We saw Jerry’s, we saw Jerry’s daughter
[B] [("SURPRISE TRUCK" BEGINS)]