Back in the days of rambling around to Grateful Dead shows with pals in various (usually Volkswagen) vehicles, cameras weren’t really part of the kit. Usually, ticket(s) if possible, contraband if practical, maybe extra clothes to accomodate climates, hopefully a few bucks.
However, as part of my documentary instincts, i hauled along a tripod and a 35mm Alpa camera for taking “family photos” in which i would cajole (with much whingeing usually) the assmebled renegades to pose, i’d hit the timer and run back (as such usually right in front) and take 1 and only 1 shot. Years later these would usually get developed.
Many are lost to the fog, however, some are gathered here for posterity and memorial.
In preparing to enjoy Christmas 2019, i raided the archive of scanned slides which dear Mother diligently created (fortunately before her untimely passing) for a few to share with brothers.
In particular, brother James’ kids who received monogrammed robes from Ryoko and I for gifts, and also participated in various plays telling Christmas-related stories – both similar to these offerings.
Ambient “space cruise” around generally Oslo area of Norway by boat, trains and car. That’s it. No narration, action, plot, theme or whatever, just dig the views and ride along. Sound is “as-is” aside form Ilgudin Trio (from Russia, recorded live in Ubud, Indonesia) added whilst in the car. Roll on. That’s it.
Thanks to Mathias and Harald Olson for the footage – wasn’t me).
I ventured out, moustachioed, into the wilds of Guilford complete with my inmate number for easy identification.
Along with brother Dan as a clown, no tears for this one, and brother Bob with some inappropriate cultural appropriation upon which I won’t comment upon further, we would rampage through Guilford Mews condos using pillowcases instead of plastic sacks to collect the trick or treat bounty.
Oh those notorious Olson boys, always up to no good, they make the Duke boys look like saints. This time it’s Dan headed to the brig while I strike my best rockstar pose – indeed my true calling if it wasn’t those pesky musical instruments.
My iteration was a mix of my uncle Randy Bachman and a bit of Elvis who had died on my recent seventh birthday. Hey glasses, big hair, bellbottoms with pom-poms and platform shoes… But oh that pose! Simply says, “I know you’re looking but I don’t care – i’m just here to rock”
Brother Dan and I went to Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary (and final) shows – 2 in Santa Clara, California and 3 in Chicago, Illinois. We roadtripped the whole she-bang from Vancouver, BC to Olympia, WA to Pacifica, Santa Clara, then Las Vegas to Provo where we switched vehicles and rode with some pals across the midwest (camping in an epic storm in Nebraska along the way). We hit all 5 shows and enjoyed the community and music.
Other stops included Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael California and Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado to see Neil Young and Promise of the Real. We parted ways in SLC as i had to head to rescue a broken RV in Mendocino (unsuccessfully as it turns out) and Dan headed back to BC.
Along the way, stopped at various craft breweries, made loads of arts and crafts (including an massive scrapbook of ephemera, road poetry, set lists, newspaper clipping and other sundries) and a series of photos by Lomo camera. Also documented a series of two-fer photos of us enjoying beers or joints or scenery and the company of conspirators. Several of these became a “memory book” i created (via an online publishing service) for Dan as a wee present. When visited his home, i snapped quick shots of the pages (note to self: take better ones next time). Here the are the lousy pics of an otherwise lovely book – for my amusement and your curiosity.
My appreciation of both pigs and superpowers rolls on with a character aptly called “Super Pig” – diligently assembled and sewn by a budding craftsman. Alas the diligence of attempted nuance was slightly compromised again by yet another pair of specs.
Brother Dan seems quite comfortable in the convict suit, James is clowning around and Bob… Well Bob seems to be wearing a coat and pants #Understated
Well, i guess Bob was technically rocking the King Tut before my (i’m just gonna say it) legendary King Tut science fair exhibit complete with costume (keep in mind, that was fifth grade science fair and I rolled in bare chested in a loincloth).
Bob however, went for a literal interpretation taking cues from from the conventional death mask portraits of the young Pharaoh (the touring exhibit had been in Seattle this year). I point this out as mine was more historically nuanced accurate for his day-to-day wear.
Dan has graduated to ghost while James plays the role of the clown which he’s never really stopped playing now that I think about it…
“Physically, I’m 38, my liver’s 78, and maturity, probably 23-24.”
This is Engineering Undergraduate Society President Dan Olson’s response when I ask him about his age. He may be older than your average undergraduate, but that doesn’t mean he’s had any trouble keeping up with the rest of the student society he runs. “Really, it’s a trick for them to keep up with me,” he says.
His first crack at university began in 1991, as a bright-eyed pre-med student at Utah State University. But after three years of studying biochemistry, Olson decided he needed some time off.
“I realized I’d been going to school so long that I wanted a break, so I was going to take one year off and then finish up and go right to med school,” said Olson.
His respite from the academic grind wound up taking him him from pre-med to Deadhead. “For a few years, I travelled and followed the Grateful Dead,” said Olson.
“I lived out of my Volkswagen van most of the time, but there’d always be a pretty bustling parking lot scene. So I could sell grilled cheese sandwiches or beer out of a cooler. You’d actually make enough money that you could buy a ticket and get gas money to the next city.
“Then Jerry Garcia died, so I went and lived in Austria for a couple years,” said Olson. “I was involved in a lot of service projects…Building houses, and things like that.”
Next Olson returned to the United States, and was met with another stroke of luck.
“My brother and some of his friends went to Olympia, Washington and started an internet service provider,” said Olson.
“As part of the dot-com boom, we got bought out by a big [telecommunications] company out of California, so I kind of went into semi-retirement for three or four years with my stock options and severance pay.
“When that money ran out, I realized if I was ever going to go back to school, I should do it now.”
No longer interested in medicine, Olson decided to give engineering a try. “My oldest brother went through UBC engineering; he graduated in 2002,” said Olson with trademark confidence. “I figured if he could do it, I was way better at math and science, so I should have no problem.”
Olson has held two positions on the EUS, last year as VP External and this year as president. He credits UBC engineers’ legendary school spirit to strong ties with alumni. Olson plans to continue being involved here after he graduates in May.
“The alumni like to come back and tell stories of the pranks they were pulling off, and how things were back in the day.”
Olson doesn’t admit to any involvement in any of the UBC engineers’ famous “stunts,” however, which in past years have included hanging a Volkswagen Beetle off of the Lions Gate Bridge.
“I’ve actually not been involved in any of the pranks…We just kind of hear about them the next day, and hopefully they’re creative and don’t involve too much vandalism.”
Olson is has been preparing for E-Week, the EUS’s yearly celebration, taking place this week. When asked what event he was most excited about, he almost didn’t know where to start.
The week’s most anticipated events, in Olson’s mind, are probably the E-Ball, a formal dance ending the week, and Red Night, a “ridiculous” party at the Cheeze.
“It’s the big party for E-Week, and if you’re wearing your red jacket, red cardigan, or one of the E-Week 2012 shirts, you end up getting [lots of] cheap beer.”
Red Night may pose an opportunity for Olson to show off one of his best-known skills: his ability to polish off an entire pitcher of beer at frightening speed.
“Just under 12 seconds,” bragged Olson. “Somehow, I have a great natural ability to drink very fast.”