This is a One-of-A-Kind Poster, hand drawn, and not mass distributed for the event. It is likely the only one made, or at least, the only one that survived. At this point in the early acid test days, Posters and handbills were not being used to advertise events. Instead, small Posters were placed up in local coffee shops and hangouts around town, of which there were several up and down the bay, but the most prominent of these was a little place called the Catalyst. At the time, it was a lively coffee shop, but now it has moved up the street and small bands play there, as it has been turned into a club.
This particular item was taken down by someone from the Catalyst Coffee Shop at the time. I spoke to Lee Quarnstrom, who worked at the Hip Pocket Bookstore in '65, and lived at the Spread, and attended the event. Lee stated something extremely revealing to me in a private conversation when I visited with him. Lee stated, "The Hip Pocket Bookstore and the Catalyst were connected together. A person could walk from one to the other without ever going outside or leaving the building." This statement reveals a lot. What it means is that this Poster could be the main advertising and only advertising for the first Acid Test event, besides the sign Norman Hartweg tacked onto the board that belonged to Babbs. Or maybe this was the sign? Either way, in my opinion, this is the most important piece of Acid Test history to survive. Truly Miraculous!
Shown below is a hand-written letter from the man who took it down himself, and saved it all these years. (May you rest in peace, Harvey.)
The Acid Test Chronicles - Page 11 - The Warlocks - The Very First Acid Test - The Spread (Ken Babbs House), Soquel, outside of Santa Cruz
"CAN YOU PASS THE ACID TEST?" --"
Comes the call
Chisled on each Prankster eyeball
in Lincoln gothic
As we moan
In this graveyard among moonstone tombstones
with a philosophic
It's your ass --
Can you pass the Acid Test?
Babbs and Kesey swaying
In a California graveyard, baying
In the synch
Zonked on LSD on the brink
Of a missionary quest:
Can you pass the Acid Test?
Vault, coffins and bald carbon-dated bones
A dreamtime transfusion
From the Community Breast:
Can you pass the Acid Test?
The group mind
Flying high, Major, but not blind
in the moonshine
With the ceremony that would be required
in the moon shot
The prankster message to the ends
Of the earth. A Mindfest:
a moon ship
The Acid Test
...and Kesey emerged from the weird night in the graveyard with the vision of turning on the world, literally, and a weirdly practical way of doing it, known as
THE ACID TEST
For it has been written...he develops a strong urge to extend the message to all people...he develops a ritus, often involving music, dance, liturgy, sacrifice, to achieve an objectified and stereotyped expression of the original spontaneous religious experience.
"And suddenly Kesey sees that they, the Pranksters, already have the expertise and the machinery to create a mind-blown state such as the world has never seen, totally wound up, lit up, amplified, and...controlled -- plus the most efficient key ever devised to open the doors in the mind of the world: namely, Owsley's LSD.
"The first acid test ended up more like one of the old acid parties at La Honda, which is to say, a private affair, and mostly formless. It was meant to be public, but the pranksters were not the world's greatest at the mechanics of things, like hiring a hall. The first one was going to be in Santa Cruz, but they couldn't hire a hall in time. They had to hold it out at Babb's house, a place known as the Spread, just outside of Santa Cruz in a community known as Soquel. The Spread was like a rundown chicken farm. The wild vetch and dodder vines were gaining ground every minute, at least where the ground wasn't burn off or beaten down into a clay muck. There were fat brown dogs and broken vehicles and rusted machine and rotting troughs and recapped tires and a little old farmhouse with linoleum floors and the kind of old greasy easy chairs that upholstry flies hover over in nappy clouds and move off about three-quarters of an inch when you wave your hand at them. But there were also wild Day-Glo creations on the walls and ceilings, by Babbs, and the place was private, and tucked by itself. In any case, they were stuck with the Spread.
About all the advertising they could do was confined to the day of the Test itself. Norman Hartweg had painted a sign on some cardboard and tacked it onto some boards Babbs had used as cue signs in the movie and put it up in the Hip Pocket Bookstore. Can YOU Pass the Acid Test? The Hip Pocket Bookstore was a paperback bookstore that Hassler and Peter Demma, one of the Prankster outer circle, were running in Santa Cruz. They left word in the store that afternoon that it was going to be at Babb's. A few local bohos saw it and came out, but mainly it was the Pranksters and their friends who showed up at the Spread that night, including a lot of the Berkeley crowd that had been coming to La Honda. Plus Allen Ginsberg and his entourage.
It started off as a party, with some of the movie flashed on the walls, with lights, and tapes, and the Pranksters providing much of the music themselves, not to mention the LSD. The Pranksters' strange atonal Chinese music broadcast on all frequencies, a la John Cage. It was mostly just another La Honda party --but then around 3:00 A.M. a thing happened....The non-involved people, the people just there for the beano, the people who hadn't seen the Management, like the Berkeley people, they had all left by 3:00 A.M. and the Test was down to some kind of core... It ended up with Kesey on one side of Babbs living room, and Ginsberg on the other, with everybody else arranged around these two poles like on a magnet, all the Kesey people over toward him and all the Ginsberg people toward him-- The super-West and the super-East -- and the subject got to be Vietnam. Kesey gives his theory of whole multitudes of people joining hands in a clump and walking away from the war. Ginsberg said all these things, these wars, were the result of misunderstandings. Nobody who was doing the fighting ever wanted to be doing it, and if only everybody could sit around in a friendly way and talk it out, they could get to the root of their misunderstanding and settle it---and then from the rear of the Kesey contingent came the voice of the only man in the room who had been within a thousand miles of the war, Babbs, saying, "Yes. it's all so very obvious".
It's all so very obvious....
How magical that comment seemed at that moment! The magical eighth hour of acid---how clear it all now was---Ginsberg had said it, Babbs, the warrior, had certified it, and it had all built to this, and suddenly everything was so...very clear.
The Acid Test at the Spread was just a dry run, of course. It didn't really... reach out into the world...But! Soon....The Rolling Stones, England's second hottest pop group were coming to San Jose, 40 miles south of San Francisco, for a show in the Civic Auditorium on December 4. Kesey can see it all, having seen it before. He can see all the wound up, wired up teeny freaks and assorted multitudes pouring out of the Cow Palace after the Beatles show that night, the fragmented pink-tentacled beast, pouring out still aquiver with ecstacy and jelly beans all cocked and aimless with no flow to go off in.
It is so very obvious." ." -- Electric Kool Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe - Pages 229-235
"The first Acid Test was held at a place called "the Spread" -- as in what a rancher would call his ranch. This was a little ranch in Soquel, which is a small, unincorporated town adjacent to Santa Cruz. I lived on the Spread with Babbs and Gretchen Fetchen and Ron Boise and Space Daisy, whom I later married after Boise died. They lived there in Boise's big truck. Kesey and Faye and their kids and Mountain girl lived there on and off too.
It was about 400 acres, but we rented it pretty cheaply because Santa Cruz was not a hot place to live in those days. We had left La Honda for a lot of reasons, one of which was the septic tank had backed up and the Hell's Angels were hanging around too much. Many of us were not as enthralled by the Hell's Angels as others were.
Anyway, one night the first Acid Test just happened there at the Spread. Allen Ginsberg was there, Cassady was there, Jerry Garcia and a couple of the Warlocks were there before they became known as the Grateful Dead.
It was like a Mickey Roonie movie where we suddenly said, "Hey, I know, we can put on a show." -- Lee Quarnstrom - On the Bus - Paul Perry - Page 141-42
"The first of those special parties was at Ken Babbs place in Soquel, near Santa Cruz, on the coast, south of Palo Alto, on November 27, 1965. Such public notice as there was of the event came through a posting at Lee Quarnstrom and Peter Dema's Hip Pocket Book Store in Soquel. The Pranksters were joined by Allen Ginsberg and his lover, Peter Orlovesky, and Garcia, Lesh, Weir, Sue Swanson, and Connie Bonner among others, and the night basically involved hanging out and tripping together.
Lesh would always recall the capsules they took that night, completely transparent except for the tiniest of scratches on the inner surface that marked the LSD that was their transport to another world. he spent much of the evening staring at the stars with Swanson, but at length decided that he'd like to play the electric guitar that Kesey was banging on. Kesey didn't want to give it up, but Phil was not dissuaded, and learned one of his early lessons on the subtleties of tripping. He proceeded to gluehiseyesonKesey, and in a while Kesey got up and shoved the guitar at him. "Here." Weir, on the other hand, had another sort of adventure. Although he had read "Howl," he did not recognize Allen Ginsberg, and saw only that he "was pretty damned amazing, this stuff he would say and do. So I figured, okay, I'm gonna sit next to this guy. Which was okay with him" -- if not for Peter Orlovsky, who would be cautiously jealous of the utterly hetero Weir in the future.
A day or two later there was Prankster meeting at La Honda attended by Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, representing the Dead. They sat around Kesey's kitchen table and planned a somewhat larger party for the following Saturday in San Jose, one that would include the music of the Grateful Dead. They weren't entirely sure what they were doing, beyond throwing a party and having a good time. Spreading consciousness of what LSD might teach you was one notion; getting good and crazy and spreading the virtue of that was another. Making money was definitely out. For the members of the Grateful Dead, it was first of all an opportunity to play the way they wanted. "We knew we had something," Lesh said later, "but we didn't know how deep it was. We directed and focused it through these parties." By now, someone--no one recalled who--had designed ID cards for the sessions, with the traditional recruiting picture of Uncle Sam posing a new and dicey question: "Can YOU Pass the Acid Test?" And so the parties became the Acid Tests." -- What A Long Strange Trip - Dennis McNally - Pages 111-112
"The Warlocks got sick of this showbiz routine, sick of topless titty, sick of hopelessness. The sentiment was: If we're are going to make a million it ain't gonna be this way; they'll have our ass for sure. Meanwhile, the union had Odduck's ass for not having a license to manage or something, and the hills were waiting for everybody, so the Warlocks split, but stayed together. They decided to go up to Kesey's place in La Honda to see what was goin' on.
Merlin (Owsley) had by this time managed to supply Kesey's troops with dope(s). You see, to a dope dealer, Kesey was a succulent connection...nobody knows for sure how they met, so I won't bore you with the made-up facts, but it was a very synchronous time. The Warlocks might have broken up for good if it hadn't been for Garcia and Phil goin' up to Kesey's place and hangin out with Babbs and Kesey, and Stewart Brand and talkin' about a multimedia show. Then Babbs said, why don't we do one? And that's how the Trips Festival began...over in Soquel at Babbs place right in the heart of rural Santa Cruz County. Pig and Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzman showed up, and that was about all the music was - not rock and roll, just prankster music. Foster showed and Page Browning, and Hassler, and Mountain Girl, and Ron Boise, and the local freaks like Dick Smith the Dentist, and Peter Dema, and Lee Quarnstrom. The New Delhi River Band, consisting of Dave Torbert and Dave Nelson -- and sometimes Marmaduke -- showed up and later played gigs at the 'Barn' on the highway in Santa Cruz."
...."Foxy Connie Bonner and faithful Sue Swanson showed up, probably because of Weir. The Warlocks used Sue Swanson's poolside backyard for practice sessions, but this drove the neighbors in Ahterton mad. For the first time, everybody got stoned together at night, with Kesey and Babbs to oversee the project. For the first time the masks that were on the faces were painted on...the illusion was real, Sandoz saw to that. Paul Foster painted up like a purple-and-green Othello, lamenting his Desdemona. Babbs cavorted about in endless pranks and flippy mind boggles. Allen Ginsberg was there, and maybe one or two of his boys. It was all a blur. The bus waited outside with Roy Seburn to drive it. That was one baccahanal the chauffeur would not miss. The big bus was being painted more every day. Blue wheels, pink spots, the divan on the back flap, the portable generator maybe workin', maybe not. All stood outside for interminable hours waiting silently in the moonlight like it would just be abandoned by the celebrants, but it was fire. FURTHER was fired up again, and off they went over the hill very very very very very very stoned.
The midnight screeching second bardo joy hallucination kind of died down in the little hamlet of Soquel, only to be heard again in other out-of-town places, polishing the act up. Maybe even to turn on the WHOLE EARTH.
The next Acid Test was in San Jose on the night of the Rolling Stones concert, ..."
-- The Grateful Dead - Vanguard of a New Generation - Hank Harrison - Page 130-31 -- (Note: The information above may be off slightly as far as attendees at the Spread on Nov. 27 at Babbs in Soquel. This may be a misreading of Hanks writing, or Hank got some details jumbled, but Mountain Girl told me one time, in 2009, that she was at her parents house in another state for Thankgiving when the party, considered the first Acid Test, happened at the Spread. This seems likely since the dates are 26th Thanksgiving, and 27th the Test)
More from Grateful Dead - Vanguard - Pages - 149-50
"But by that time, the full Prankster crew had arrived in town and Hassler was losing interest in the book business. Some of the Pranksters were at the 'Spread', others had moved in with Bill Laudner in the old yellow house at Seventh Avenue and Soquel Road....
Kesey had parked the bus at the Spread, and Boise's truck was there too. Joe Lazowski was beginning to let his hair grow a little and starting to experiment with Day-Glo paints on Boise's thunder machine and other musical instruments.
In La Honda there were lots of Saturday night scenes to which were invited any and all who might want to watch a bunch of freaks in action. Filmmaker Kenneth Anger was invited. A chicken was disemboweled during a show, causing Anger and others to leave clutching their bellies. I think the unpleasantness of that particular Saturday night scene was another signal that the time had come to leave La Honda.
Anyways, Kesey and Babbs decided to continue this Saturday night stuff at the Spread. Babbs spent a lot of time hooking up one of his weird microphone tape recorder systems and various rock bands played loud music. (This included the official acid test band, later known as the Grateful Dead.) One Saturday was unusally busy at the Hip Pocket Bookstore, although few books were sold. Neal Cassady brought Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky in on their way to the Spread. Several dozen other people stopped in for directions. Demma was getting a little uptight because of all the traffic through the store. At that point, I think, Peter wanted to sell books for a change.
One Saturday night I walked in to find a large number of people standing around watching Kesey, Babbs, Mountain Girl, Ginsberg, Cassady, Orlovesky, Orlovesky's brother Lafcadio, and Pancho Pillow in the living room. Pancho Pillow, aptly named by Mountain Girl, was saying things like. "'Hey, there's a far out trip I want to lay on you,' and the others were dealing with Pancho as men who don't need trips laid on them are likely to do. After the Pancho Pillow scene ended there was music, freaking and ....at one point someone, maybe Kesey, maybe Paul Foster announced that this was the first Acid Test
CAN YOU PASS THE ACID TEST?
NO LEFT TURN UNSTONED!"
BOB WEIR Guitarist FOR THE Grateful Dead
"We did the first one or two Acid Tests as the Warlocks and then changed our name to the Grateful Dead. I was having every bit as much fun as I could possibly have. I was a kid in a candy store. All the stuff that was happening was new: this rock & roll explosion, the Acid Tests and all that kind of stuff. No one had ever even imagined that stuff like that could possibly happen until it did. It was actually better than realizing my dreams. I think the Dead played all the Acid Tests except for one. There was an Acid Test somewhere, maybe in Mexico, that we didn't get to. The Acid Tests were complete chaos with little knots of quasiorganization"
"No one seems to know when exactly Garcia and the others first connected with the Pranksters. Garcia, and a couple other members of the group were definitely at the party that is usually considered to be the first Acid Test held in late November at Babbs spread near Santa Cruz. Neal Cassady and Allen Ginsburg were there, as were all the Pranksters who were around and even a few curious thrill-seekers who has responded to a "little sign" Hassler had put up in the Santa Cruz bookstore he ran, Can You Pass the Acid Test? The evening was fun and profound enough that by the end of the night, as Prankster Lee Quarnstrom put it, "It was like a Mickey Rooney movie where we suddenly said, 'Hey, I know--we can put on a show!' "
"Before there were Acid Tests, says Garcia, there were parties, and we got invited to one of these parties and we went down and plugged all our stuff in and played for about a minute. Then we all freaked out. But we made a good impression on everybody in that minute, so we were invited to the next one. So we just started playing at these things and they wer egreat fun....We were ready for something completely free-form. It kind of went along with where we were going, which is we were experimenting with psychedelics, as much as we were playing music."
The next acid test took place in the wee hours of Dec. 4, 1965 after the Rolling Stones had played a show at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium, with the Dead and Kesey's gang in attendance." - Garcia: American Life - Page 86
"The weekend gatherings were getting too big to be held in anyone's house. The Pranksters decided to move the weekend showings to Babbs place in Santa Cruz, a chicken ranch gone to seed known as "the Spread."
The Grateful Dead -- Garcia, Pigpen Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann -- set up in the livign room and played. The Pranksters joined in. Ginsberg chanted. Kesey and Babbs were there, and Cassady rapped into a microphone. At dawn everyone left. It was the first Acid Test." --- On the Bus - Paul Perry - Page 115
Things became exceptionally strange when Kesey formed his Merry Pranksters, an anarchistic, communal society based in nearby La Honda. The Warlocks began hanging out with Kesey and playing at his parties, and before long the two entities co-sponsored the famous Acid Test gatherings, which Dead biographer Blair Jackson described as "a night of having the senses assaulted in more ways than most people thought were imaginable." In Jackson's book, The Music Never Stopped, Garcia described the affairs as "open, a tapestry, a mandala. Anything was O.K. The Acid Tests were thousands of people, all hopelessly stoned, finding themselves in a roomful of other thousands of people, none of whom any of them were afraid of."
"In late '65 strange posters began to appear on telephone poles and in bookstores around the South Bay: CAN YOU PASS THE ACID TEST? A tall, narrow, off-yellow strip of paper promised attendance by the Beats! Neal Cassady! Freaks! the Merry Pranksters! and by implication, had one eyes to see and ears to hear, something perhaps more intangible. Since we were constantly ready to drop a little acid at a moment's notice, I wangled invitations for the band to the first Test through my good friend Page Browning.
The event was held in Ken Babbs living room at his home in the small town of Soquel, near Santa Cruz. Babbs, a former marine helicopter pilot known as "Intrepid Traveler," was by then Kesey's lieutenant and chief co-conspirator among the Merry Pranksters. The Pranksters were a diverse group of freaks clustered around Kesey, some from the Perry Lane days, some drawn to Kesey by his books. Their first rite of passage as a group mind came in the summer of '64, when they took an old school bus, tricked it out with all manner of audio-visual gear, and drove across the country to the New York World's Fair -- with the aim of staying high all the way and recording it on film and tape. Unfortunately, stoned people don't make very good camera operators (it's difficult to actually record the hallucinations,) but some of the audio recordings of Neal Cassady really capture his rap.
True to traditional practice, some of our apprentice shamans took or were given acid test names : "Chief" (Kesey), "Speed Limit" (Neal), "Gretchen Fetchen the Slime Queen" (A cool blond lady who became Mrs. Babbs), when we started coming around, Jerry became "Captain Trips" because he was continually marveling "What A Trip!" or shouting "More Trips!". I became "Reddy Kilowatt" or sometimes "Flash", as Jerry named me after a particularly wild gig. Pig already had his name; Billy became (lucky man!) Billy the Drummer.
We were at the first Test not to play, but just to feel it out, and we hadn't brought any instruments or gear. The equipment there -- some audio, some visual -- was brought in by the Pranksters from Kesey's compound in La Honda. It, being Prankster's stuff, naturally had all kinds of colorful collages pasted all over it, and also was kinda beat-up, in a way that suggested it had just returned from a circumnavigation of the globe on Kesey's bus, Further. I remember wanting the only electric guitar in the place, though -- I vibed poor Kesey so hard he just thrust it at me, grumbling, "OK OK" -- but then I discovered I coudn't make any sense out of it after all. Ah, well, night sky was ever so much more fascinating."
Although it was considered the seed experience out of which the whole ballroom, psychedelic-lightshow, multimedia phenomenon would grow, the first iteration of the Test was a curiously subdued occasion. It ended up being just like every other acid party -- people getting high and doing pretty much what they wanted. There were a few sporatic attempts to get a collective experience going, but the energy was too spread out. It seemed as though some kind of focus was needed to transform diffuse individual energies into coherent collectives. Clearly, music was the answer, even if it meant turning the event into a performance of sorts. Everybody in the band except Pig, who at the time preferred Southern Comfort, was taking acid on a regular basis, and we were ready to take the next step: actually performing while high, in a setting with similarly enhanced participants. Several days after the Soquel Test, Jerry picked Bobby and me up in his old Corvair, and we drove up to La Honda to meet with Kesey. We all agreed that the band would play the next Test."
This is a letter I received from Harvey, the man who took the Warlocks poster down from the Catalyst Club Nov. 1965. Harvey was a very sharp and special person to have been at this place, at this time, and saved this item all these years. I can only imagine what kind of person would have that kind of foresight. Harvey dated one of the University Art students in the Palo Alto area at the time, and was right in the middle of the "scene". Unfortunately, many of these shining stars have left us in the past few years, and Harvey is no different. On August 16, 2009, Harvey passed away of a heart attack. If you appreciate this item, or any of the Warlocks items on this website, including Mother McCrees poster, remember to thank Harvey, and say a prayer for him, the man who had the foresight to have saved them all these years.
According to articles by Carolyn Swift in The Santa Cruz Sentinel, The Barn was promoted by Santa Cruz clinical psychologist Leon Tabory. The University of California at Santa Cruz had just opened in Fall 1965, and Santa Cruz was going from a sleepy resort town to a much more interesting place. A bookstore called The Hip Pocket opened on Pacific Avenue in 1964. Besides free-thinking literature, it featured two huge metallic nude sculptures by artist Ron Boise, who was associated with Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters. At a 1965 obscenity trial, Dr Tabory helped exonerate the Bookstore. Click here for some memories of Santa Cruz in the later 60s.
The Catalyst Coffee Shop opened near The Hip Pocket, and became a hangout for the nascent hippie scene. The Hip Pocket went bankrupt in 1966, but its stock of books were the basis for Santa Cruz mainstay Bookshop Santa Cruz. Bookshop Santa Cruz (near its original location) and The Catalyst (now a bar and restaurant a few blocks west) are still mainstays of downtown Santa Cruz.
According to the Scott’s Valley Historic Society, The Barn was originally the Frapwell Dairy Barn from 1914 to 1948. Afterwards it was remodeled as a sort of community center/gymnasium/theater. Around 1965 it was taken over by one Eric Nord, proprietor of a string of clubs and coffee shops throughout California, and apparently founder of San Francisco’s Hungry I. Presumably Nord and Tabory had some kind of partnership. There seems to have been a coffee shop and art gallery in nearby Aptos called The Sticky Wicket, and there seems to be some connection between The Barn and The Sticky Wicket, possibly Eric Nord.
The Early Catalyst
Some thoughts on the early Catalyst, with help from Patti.....
For several years the early Catalyst was a second home to me. I started working there a couple of months after it opened, lunch time only, and soon took on a split shift for the lunch and night crowd. This wasn’t a job just to get by. At the minimum wage of $2.35 an hour it barely provided that. But it was exactly at the center of where I wanted to be. The Sticky Wicket and Mannie’s were in Aptos; the Barn in Scotts Valley, and none of these places came alive until the sun went down. On Pacific Avenue, the Hip Pocket had folded and Bookshop Santa Cruz was trying to figure out how to get up and running. When Al & Patti DiLudovico opened the Catalyst they breathed life into the downtown, a place that was basically dead. The original Catalyst was one of the hubs of all that went on around here in the 60s. But its success was more than being in the right place at the right time---It was because of Al & Patti’s vision for the place, run by his powerful, larger-than-life energy and tempered by her sweetness and warmth.
The Catalyst started out in the Redwood Room, so called because of the split redwood bark on the walls. This stuff, aesthetic as it may have been, was immediately removed, probably because of the health dept., but also because if you inadvertently brushed up against it your skin would break out in welts. The deli counter was in this room along with a few tables. More seating was in the back, the Fountain Room, with its mirrored walls, tile floor and beautiful fountain set right in the center of the room. Off to the side was a small pub-like bar with an amber glass-paneled ceiling. Out of both love for the place and necessity, Patti & Al were involved with every aspect of the Catalyst, which is how she ended up also being its first bartender.
Except for its name and another fountain, the current Catalyst on Pacific Ave bears no resemblance to the early one. For starters, the original Catalyst wasn’t a club, it was a coffeehouse, in the style of some of the great bohemian spots in Berkeley, Sausalito and San Francisco. Its focus was on high quality deli food, pickles that could sear the skin off your hands, incredible pastries, and coffee and tea from around the world. A 10 oz cup of coffee was twenty five cents, with unlimited free refills. Equally important was the atmosphere---the feeling was Beat, then gradually morphed with the influx of hippies. This ambience was intense, vital and laid back at the same time. For those who couldn’t handle it, there was always the Bubble Bakery up the street with Farmers Bros. coffee.
Much later, the deli counter was moved to the huge Colonial Room. This was the St. George’s former ballroom; for years it had been just a storage space for County Bank records, and its hardwood floors, murals of nymphs dancing among flowers and enormous glass and wood doors that swung open to Front St. were still intact. In fact, the architecture of the St. George was spectacular, and the Catalyst occupied some of its best. A stage was in place for poetry and book readings, folk singers, chamber music and occasional bands. Up till then, performances had usually been pretty spontaneous, with one or two people showing up with a guitar and asking Al if they could play in the Fountain Room.
But with the move to the Colonial Room, table service began and waitresses were brought on. I was now working there most of the day on into the night, just like Al & Patti, but notably without the responsibility. There had never been any question in my mind about where I wanted to work; as far as I was concerned the Catalyst was the center of the universe. With the huge wood and glass doors open onto Front Street, I would stand behind the counter in the late morning, waiting for the unique cast of characters that made up the lunch crowd, knowing I had the best job in the best place in the world.
"The decision to change the name meant we were getting serious, because we couldn't make a record if some other band had the same name as us.
I told the boys I was in a record store, thumbing though 45s, and I'd seen a record with the name the Warlocks on it. I've often wondered whether I hallucinated it, because I never saw the record again and I never heard a word about any band called the Warlocks." - Phil Lesh
"We were trying to think up names, and for about two or three weeks we went on the usual thing of coming up with thousands and thousands of very funny names, none of which we could use." -- Garcia -- Playing in the band - Page 37-38
(In the reference below, it refers to the exact date that the name Grateful Dead was first discovered, Nov. 12. However, the band did not just adopt the name the next day or even the next week. In fact they did not adopt it for another month almost. Nov. 12 is when the idea first occured, then it took time to mull it around, and settle on it and then start to use it.)
"Finally, on November 12, a cold gray windy day, the four of them gathered at Lesh's house on High Street. Garcia had smoked DMT before coming over, but the others were sober. Garcia and Lesh sat on the couch as Weir and Kreutzmann hovered behind them. They paged through Bartlett's, read out a thousand possiblities, rejected them all. Then Garcia opened Phil's girlfriend Ruth's Funk and Wagnall's New Practical Standard Dictionary (1956), shook it open, and stabbed it with his finger. "Everything else on the page went blank," he later said, "diffuse, just sorta oozed away, and there was GRATEFUL DEAD, big black letters edged all around in gold, man, blasting out at me, such a stunning combination." Hey,man! How about the Grateful Dead?" Lesh began to jump up and down, shouting "That's it! That's it!" Weir didn't like it, thinking it morbid. "It held us back for years and years," he would say much later. As soon as he thought about it, even Garcia found it "kinda creepy." Hanging out at Swain's Music Store, Jerry asked Evie, a clerk there, how to spell "grateful." However you spell it," she sniffed, "you'll never make it with that name."
Innocent as babes, they had connected with a motif that had twined itself throughout human history. The definition in the dictionary referred specifically to the nineteenth-century musicologist Francis Child's term for a type of ballad. The grateful dead ballad or folktale concerns a hero who comes upon a corpse being refused a proper burial because it owes a debt. The hero resolves the debt and thus the corpse's destiny without expectation of reward, often with his last penny. Soon he meets a traveling companion who aids him in some impossible task, who, of course, turns out to be the spirit of the corpse he aided. The motif is found in almost every culture since the ancient Egyptians. Unknowingly, the Warlocks had plunked themselves into a universal cultural thread woven into the matrix of all human experience. The term "grateful dead" is about karma, and asserts that acting from soul and the heart guarantees that righteousness will result. It is about honor, compassion, and keeping promises. It precedes and suggests, "Cast thy bread upon the waters," and "No man is an island," and "What goes around comes around." The very fact of a good-time rock band selecting a name that involved death automatically created a gap that automatically seperated the sheep from the goats. You had to be at least a little bent just to appreciate it. It implied layers and layers of depth, unique among all rock band names in that era, and suggested that something very powerful indeed was happening on High Street that day. In the end, they did not choose their name. It chose them." -- What A Long Strange Trip - Dennis McNally - Pages 100-101
(This is interesting, because David Nelson claims this was the first time they auditioned as The Grateful Dead - So, when exactly did they change their name? I maintain it happened over a brief period of time between Dec. 10 [Fillmore], right before Muir Beach and Jan. 6, the Fillmore Test)
"I went to their Tuesday night audition at the Fillmore. The other bands that were auditioning that same night were the Great Society and the Loading Zone. I remember I took acid that night. I walked in real early and nobody was even there. Bill Graham used to put as barrel of apples out. I saw apples. I thought, "Hmmm! Probably for somebody private or something." I said, "I'm hungry. I'll steal one anyway." So I took an apple and I was just biting into it when Bill Graham walked in. I didn't know who he was. I thought, "I hope he's a janitor." I just started cooling it and he walked by and I looked at him and he nodded. He looked and nodded and then he did one of those Bill things. He stopped, did a slow double take, and went, "Uh, who are you? Who are you with?" I said, "Warlocks." I knew this would make him know I was really with them. Because this was the first night they were auditioning as the Grateful Dead." -- David Nelson - Dark Star Oral Biography - Robert Greenfield - Page 68-69
An old handbill from 1967 for the Grateful Dead's first album. The Grateful Dead, mainly Jerry and Phil were heavy into Egyptology as shown by the symbols all over the handbill . The Ankhe is prominently featured. The symbol at the top is the "Eye of Horus". Symbolically, this represented both the third eye, the origin of psychic strength and the Sun, the source of everlasting life on the planet. The slogan reads "In the Land of the Dark the Ship of the Sun is Driven by the Grateful Dead" - There are double meanings here, both psychic and solar. At least that would be a common interpretation.
The image here is the "Temple of Horus". Notice the Temple itself, the opening "Eye" is surrounded by two pillers or oblisks on both sides. The oblisk is a phallic symbol in Egypt. The Sun is also masculine, where as the moon is feminine. In Egypt, Solar worship defined the culture, and Lunar worship was done in secret. The design on the Warlocks piece above COULD be interpreted to be the Temple of Horus, since the "eye" is surrounded by two pillars, or oblisks. Is this a coincidence, or did Jerry and the Dead understand the Illuminati/Masonic Secret Conspiracy, maybe through studying Egyptology, alchemy and the occult?
"We were doing the Acid Tests, which was our first response to formlessness. Formlessness and chaos led to new forms. And new order. Closer to, probably, what the real order is." - Jerry Garcia - Sweet Chaos - Carol Brightman - Page 13
Page 13? - Sweet Chaos?
More From Sweet Chaos - Page 81 - "Tolkien was part of a fascination with the shadowy world of the Illuminati and Grail seekers, with cryptic medieval text about the Philosopher's Stone and Dagobert the Horrible, which so interested the Warlock's manager Hank Harrison, as well as Lesh and Garcia. Such literature mirrors the altered states of an acid trip, as do certain folktales, with their merging of visible and invisible worlds. Trist, who read social anthropology at Cambridge after he retunred to England in 1961, has retold the hero tale called "The Water of Life." Subtitled A Tale of the Grateful Dead, The Water of Life incorporates the folk motif of the Grateful Dead. -- "You have shown me kindness," the beggar said, "and the way to the Water of Life is long and hard. You must pass through the Dark Wood then climb high into the mountains of the North where stands the castle of a fierce ogre. The object of your quest can be found there. In order to succeed you must defend yourself against enemies and give of yourself when no one asks." -- Continuing..."The prince pressed the petal to his lips and soon fell into a blissful slumber, dreaming of a golden road which wound through the mountains, down, down through a gorge of diamond waterfalls to the banks of a sweetly singing river, where he drank deeply and bathed as though cradled in it's arms." -- Petals, Diamonds from Dark Star, GOLDEN ROAD, mountains and rivers in all kinds of Dead songs. - The Water of life is what the tired Grail Seeker, hone from the office might read to his or her children. --
Now, some might still question whether or not Jerry and Phil could have been into the arcane subjects or if maybe it was just a passing fancy. - Well, I personally visited with Hank Harrison in May of 2009, shortly after my visit with Lee Quarnstrom. I interviewed Hank in a non-formal way. We discussed many things of mutual interest. In our conversation, I asked Hank, frankly, "who could have been the person who designed this piece?," (showing him pictures of the Warlocks Babbs Poster shown above), and asked him outright, "who was so interested in secret societies or the Masons or the Illuminati that they could have drawn this?" -- Hanks reply to me, and I quote, "We were all into that stuff. I'm a Mason, and my family are Masons going way back, and Phil Lesh is a Mason and so is Phil's family." , I replied, "Phil Lesh is a Mason? What degree? Hank replied, "he never got that far, never had the time, but he is a 3rd degree, Master Mason" -- I went on, "does he keep that covered up, or care if anyone knows that?" Hank replied, "No, I don't think so. I thought lots of people knew. I'm proud of being a Mason, and I don't hide it, and I don't think Phiul does either, but I doubt he actually talks about to people. It was way in the past." - So I asked him more about all this, and Hank mentioned, "I would go to the Oxford Library and borrow book on the occult, alchemy, the grail legends, and mystery schools etc., the Dead would read it, eat it up, and I would return them, and bring back more for them to read." -- So, that pretty much explains why Jerry and Phil would have chosen to use the "Eye of Horus" as a symbol in the early Warlocks Acid Test days.
Many people might be surprised to leran Hank Harrison had written a book titled, "The Cauldren and the Grail," on the Holy Grail, as well as an online book titled "Atlantis Rising," which a person can locate by visiting his website.