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Local Book Notes: Grateful Drummer & City Indian

Bill Kreutzmann is scheduled to appear at a couple events in the Chicago suburbs this weekend to promote his new book DEAL: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead.

On Saturday, it's a talk/signing event at the Community Christian Church in Naperville. On Sunday, it's a signing at the Barnes & Noble at Old Orchard in Skokie.

Some Chicago-related excerpts:

My father, Clark Shaugnessy, coached the Stanford University football team that won the 1941 Rose Bowl. He modified the T Formation and tweaked it until it was wild enough to win championships. It was innovative and crazy at the same time. It made him famous. He eventually accepted the position of head coach in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams and then, later, coached the Chicago Bears.

To be clear, he was a coach of the Bears, not the coach.

Which isn't to say he was never a head coach in Chicago.

"As head coach at the University of Chicago in the '30s, Shaughnessy engendered a strong but often confrontational relationship with Bears coach George Halas," ESPN once noted.

"Shaughnessy teamed with the Papa Bear to handpick Columbia University single wing tailback Sid Luckman as a revolutionary Hall of Fame quarterback who operated the modern T-formation, a Shaughnessy brainchild, in the NFL."

*

About a cancelled 1978 show at the Uptown:

"'Mumps' wasn't the ostensible reason for the cancellation of the show on the 18th, but measles," one Deadhead says.

"About four thousand deadheads were calmly in line at showtime, and Steve Parrish emerged from the front doors of the Uptown and announced that the show was cancelled 'because a band member has the measles.' I asked him, 'Which band member?' and he replied 'the drummer.' I said 'Kreutzmann?' and he nodded yes. In recent years, it has come to light that Billy was just exhausted from the road and partying (no measles, no mumps). On the tape of the 5/17 show, you can hear him tiring during the second set."

Not quite. From DEAL:

On May 18, 1978, we were at the final stop of a spring tour and the end of a three-night stand in Chicago. I made them cancel the gig. Actually, I didn't make anybody do anything. But long before our call time at the Uptown Theater, I was already back home in California.

For whatever reason, Keith [Godchaux] and I got into a major fight back at the hotel, after the gig the night before. I don't even remember what the fight was about. Isn't that something? It was probably some real nonsense.

I stopped by his hotel room and, out of nowhere, he started saying some really nasty shit to me. "Well then, fuck you, Keith!" I was exhausted. It was the end of the tour, which usually means you're crispy up top and frayed around the edges. I overreacted and jumped on the first flight out of there, even though we had just one more show to complete the tour. But I didn't want to be in the same building as Keith and I couldn't imagine walking on stage with him and doing something as interpersonal as playing music. It was that bad.

*

Soldier Field Getaway.

When the Grateful Dead peaked, exactly, is up for debate. It's a complicated calculation because we didn't have just one peak - we had many. But they were all in the rearview mirror by 1993. There were some nights when Jerry would be so doped up that he would start to nod off, on stage. I'd hit my crash cymbal as hard as I could, just to wake him up. "Hey Jerry, you're on stage!" "Thanks, Bill." That actually happened. More than once, I'm sure. (But the time I'm thinking of took place at Soldier Field in Chicago, at the end of our Summer 1995 tour . . . end of the road.

Indeed.

"Garcia hadn't been in the best of health for some time," Rhino notes.

"Phil Lesh observed in his memoir, Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead, that Garcia's physical and mental acuity were both far less than 100% - and, although he'd been clean for several years, he returned to using drugs to help numb the pain, leading to a stint at the Betty Ford Center not long after his final show with the Dead, after which he moved to Serenity Knolls, a treatment center in Forest Knolls, California, which is where he died on August 9, 1995, having suffered a heart attack."

City Indian
"In City Indian, [Rosalyn] LaPier and [David] Beck tell the engaging story of American Indian men and women who migrated to Chicago from across America," University of Nebraska Press says.

"From the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition to the 1934 Century of Progress Fair, American Indians in Chicago voiced their opinions about political, social, educational and racial issues.

"City Indian focuses on the privileged members of the American Indian community in Chicago who were doctors, nurses, business owners, teachers, and entertainers. During the progressive era, more than at any other time in the city's history, they could be found in the company of politicians and society leaders, at Chicago's major cultural venues and events, and in the press, speaking out.

"When Mayor 'Big Bill' Thompson declared that Chicago public schools teach 'America First,' American Indian leaders publicly challenged him to include the true story of 'First Americans.' As they struggled to reshape nostalgic perceptions of American Indians, these men and women developed new associations and organizations to help each other and to ultimately create a new place to call home in a modern American city."

*

"A new era in American Indian activism dawned at the beginning of the twentieth century," the website for the book says.

"As reservation communities in the United States suffered severe economic devastation, and both policy makers and the public at large consigned the place of Indians to America's past rather than its future, a new group of American Indians sought to make a place for themselves in modern America. They laid the groundwork for a thriving American Indian community in Chicago . . .

"City Indian recounts how during the Progressive Era, more than at any other time in the city's history, American Indians could be found in the company of politicians and society leaders, at Chicago's major cultural venues and events, and in the press, speaking out. They voiced their opinions about political, social, educational, and racial issues."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on May 11, 2015


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PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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