My last night on the island of Guam I drove around rather aimlessly all night… to folks on the “outside” living on an island of this seemingly size might seem that there’s not much to drive around, but you can really meander through entirely different terrain, small villages, busy tourist strips, remote bays and cliffs, of course there’s many military bases and so on… in other words, you can really get lost… in all the best ways.
So, I was driving in a Geo Tracker jeep-type-thing with a broken top and non-working dash lights which meant I never knew at which speed I was travelling to add to the pleasant disorientation.
As sun was coming up, I found myself in an area between the “big navy” base and busy tourist area lined with dodgy warehouse-looking *massage parlours* and bars of dubious standing.
I pulled over, stood in the middle of the road to capture the rather surreal site of a few stragglers coming out after an all night bender blinking at the hazy morn, with a panorama camera. Years later developed the film, some years later scanned, and some years later “stitched” them together with software, pleasantly imprecise and strange.
I suppose I could consult contemporary sources to concur that the scene is very different now but I will just let these stir my memory and for my own hazy perception.
Tip: Click em, save em, print em, remix em – lemme know if you want full size originals.
Note: At some point, I attempted a photos/oil pastel collage of all of these but was rather unsuccessful at my execution, was in those dark years.
Summary: Woke up to the news, quit my job, went to a candlelight vigil, passed one around, talked to some geeks from Pacific Daily News newspaper, learned about the Internet, signed up for class the next day, started making websites about hemp in Japan, got a new job, quit, went to Palau and Yap, went to Olympia, met some Internet hippies… somehow its today.
Project: Upon turning 50 years old on August 16, 2020, Dave Olson (me, hello) is posting a photo (or maybe photos) a day / per year – starting with 1970 with intent of chronicling existence through various primary evidence sourced from studio portraits, class photos, ID / passport photos, or occasionally other “casual/group/random” shots when the above don’t exist in my archive (note: not “artificial intelligence,” really me, pulled from shoeboxes, journals, wallets and whatnot – diligently scanned and dated via glasses and haircuts, lightly annotated).
After arriving in Japan for the first time, i began exploring Japanese poetic forms – realizing that the didactic 5-7-5 structure *wasn’t the point* / Then combining with impressionist colours seen on a recent ramble in Europe, Read it a series combining, in a fashion, Japanese forms with European colours and “new-world” themes.
Then with brother Bob’s upcoming wedding, compiled a bunch of these creations into a little book and read (with translation) at his wedding (mostly to blank stares of bewilderment.
A few years later in Guam, did a proper layout and production run (maybe 50?) and mailed the chapbooks out around the world. Used hemp/cereal straw paper from China (ordered from Paul Stanford in Oregon) which was rough going through copy machines of the day –especially my complicated double-sided / zigzag layout with topstitch binding – of course sewn with hemp twine.
I don’t have one of the “finished ones” in my archive, but do have the original layout production master / will eventually dig out > in the meantime, here is the cover (not hemp paper) + Pay special attention to my proto-Creative-Commons non-copyright on the erstwhile colophon and the pseudonym (do you know the origins?)
While I have few delusions about my poetry chapbooks being “popular” this one especially seems to have disappeared into the wind with nary a sound (despite it being one of the projects of which i am most proud).
Note: a few of these poems were used/re-mixed in a collection from 2004 (assembled in Olympia) called “Hotspring and Stubbed Toe” which was distributed digitally and will be available shortly in this archive as part of #daveo50 series.
Been watching Oliver Stone’s “History of the United States” on Netflix. I’ve read a lot of history, but this is really eye-opening stuff. Particularly, my opinion of Harry Truman has been completely altered. He knew the Japanese were going to surrender, but chose to drop the world’s first atomic bombs anyway, against the advice of the scientists who developed it and indeed 6 out of 7 of his own generals, simply to show the Soviets that America would not hesitate to invoke vast civilian casualties. In that context, it has to be one of the most reprehensible decisions in the history of the world.
Of course he was also an enthusiastic racist to his core, and did not see the Japanese as human beings.
I would recommend this series to anyone who wants to get beyond the propaganda and find a more accurate picture of the true heroes and villains of our recent history.
To which i replied:
I’ve gone down this topic very deeply over the last few months with 3-20+ hour-long audiobooks, several documentaries and so on.
Anecdotally I’ve heard that technically you can’t publish/post/publicize photos of license plates (number plates in some areas) however i’ll assume this edict (if it exists at all) does not apply when a license plate is decommissioned and as such, simply becomes a decorative artifact, in this case attached to a shed in a small hamlet in Washington State.
You’ll notice Guam, Utah, Washington State, Alaska, Oregon, Hawaii, Colorado and antlers represented. Also a shovel (rusty).
The poster art for the party was one of the first things on our “we want to have” list for the wedding celebration. We both love music, especially live, and the posters which go along with the gigs.
So we asked the lovely Joanna and huggable Kenji who together have Gamomo Creative (a Chamorro warrior from Guam where Dave used to live for just another connection) to design up something special.
Joanna and I did many projects together at Hootsuite so she is familiar with my “here’s a big crazy idea with vague details, make something magical by reading my mind” way of working and Kenji being hafu-Japanese and an eccentric creative, is also uniquely qualified for input. They also made 2 lovely kiddos! Oh and Kenji is featured in one of my barber round-up posts getting a mullet from guitar hero/barber Rich Hope.
Anyhow, I sent JoBot (coz she’s a robot who designs with love) 6 pages of notes and a folder of “inspiration” – way toooo much of course (i’m a maximalist when it comes to design) and she asked appropriate questions to whittle it down and see what it is i liked about each piece of inspiration.
With this in mind, i’ve compiled various images and notes in a rather stream of consciousness manner to share for-the-record how we collaborated to make something truly special which will be the central design element for the goat farm party.
Worth noting that originally we planned to just us the poster at the party and then in the gift bags but it was so wonderful (not surprisingly but still surprising), we created a number of home-done print runs on various stock to send in announcement dossiers to folks all around the world. About 300 went out in this form and we then pro-printed 150 for giftbags and another 6 BIG versions on foamboard to display at key locations at the party and another rollable 4 for other commemorative purposes. Thanks Joanna and Kenji for your huge hearts and exceptional work.
Beginning with a static-y 1996 AM radio interview during a power outage on the island of Guam Micronesia, then checking in from a goat farm in Japan decades later, then again from tiny isle in Indonesia, Uncle Weed weaves hempen stories and personal anecdotes about life on this remote USA “territory” including: selling hemp bags at Jeff’s Pirate Cove, advocating for legalization of cannabis in all forms, weird jobs (and quitting same), and current situation as Grassroots activists seek to fulfil will of voters for medical and recreational uses.
As a tour host at Star Sand Private Beach Club on island of Guam. “Landlocked” by Andersen Air Force base and, as such, closed down after a terrorist incident you may have heard about in New York City.
Note: The pale one is Cmdr. “Magnum” – then entirely a civilian.
Two separate things happened on August 9, 1995, both by chance emerging from Northern California though they had little else in common. The first was a scheduled event: the initial public offering (IPO) by Netscape, a startup tech firm designed to make software to power the Internet.
I remember walking through the hallway at work that morning, probably heading for a coffee refill, when I saw a clump of co-workers and magazine editors talking anxiously. I thought they were talking about the Netscape IPO, but they weren’t. “Jerry Garcia died,” one of the editors said to me. “We need to replace the front page and get a new headline up, stat.”
Jerry Garcia. This one hit home.
Nobody said “going viral” yet by the summer of 1995, but that’s exactly what Jerry Garcia’s death did, and it was pretty much the biggest anything had gone viral anywhere up to this point.
Jerry Garcia’s death was the first major spontaneous news event to break big on the Internet, and the first of many to follow. There is one simple reason why it took a Grateful Dead member’s death to inspire the world’s first flash mob: the Internet’s early-adopter user base was heavy with educators and scientists and technologists, and educators and scientists and technologists tend to love the Grateful Dead. There was also a remarkable preponderance of Deadheads at magazines like WIRED as well as among the Internet’s most well-known early voices, like lyricist John Perry Barlow, who had recently emerged as the co-founder of the freedom-minded Electronic Frontier Foundation.
It’s because the World Wide Web and the Grateful Dead loved each other so well that August 9, 1995 turned out to be the first day I ever used the Internet to find out where I would be going that evening.
This day was pivotal for me and the day *everything* changed for me. I was a Deadhead and living on th e island of Guam after leaving Japan for a visa run and, after finding i was somehow very employable, i stayed on. Then, 1995 came and instead of joining my pals from BC, Canada and Utah and all points in between, i figured i’d work one for season as a Japanese speaking host at a private beach club – which sounds like a dream job but i could feel my brain atrophying and i’d imagine myself 20 years later as a character from a Jimmy Buffet song…And then in the weird time shifted hours of a 17 hour difference, i got the call that Jerry died. I was crushed and flummoxed and didnt go to work and instead starting making calls to find out “what happened? when’s the tribute? what the fck?” etc.
I couldnt learn a thing and the newspapers operating on a day or two delay was no help – of course this hippie didnt have a TV and then again, watching some make-upped clown on CNN tell me the generic anecdotes was not what i needed. So i went down to a park where i thought i might find some other Heads and sure enough, i found tribe of wide-eyed wonderers in the same state of mind.
I passed around a few little pinner joints – not worthy of the big man but did what i could – and commiserated with the assembled mix of oddballs who end on the island avoiding <something>. And then 2 haoles walked up and started asking questions. By that time, despite my heritage felt mostly local and raised eyebrow with the others at the intrusion and instead starting asking them questions: how? where? wtf? and they had all the answers. Mouth agape, i asked how they knew all this and they replied, “We work at the newspaper (Pacific Daily News for the record) and we have the internet.” “Ummm… The internet?” my reply. “Yeah its send words and pictures of any kind over phone lines and onto a computer,” they explained and i thought “whoa computers can do that?”
The next day, their write up was in the paper including a few of my quotes talking about how (paraphrasing) i’ve travelled all around the world and always found community with Deadheads to celebrate the music and counter-culture lifestyle.”
I realized there was no way i could physically get from Guam to San Fran in time for any memorial and instead tried to call friends who i’d roust at 3AM and barrage with questions quickly as i was paying like $8/minute or something. Still no real sense of understanding so i went to an ISP called Kuentos.Guam.net and took a one night workshop to connect to the internet using Win 3.1 and Trumpet Winsock. I couldn’t have cared less about the tech but wanted to see the words and pictures… and over the 9600 baud modem, i began to see Dead.net appear with words and pictures. The page was about 1/2 way loaded when the power went down on the whole island after a (endemic & invasive) brown tree snake bit into the one of the warm electric wires and shut it all down. I had seen the future enough to know that this was something for me.
Since i was a kiddo, i’d made ditto-machined newspapers, punk rock fanzines, the best school reports, and shared little chap-books of poetry and sketches with pals and now, i realized, i could do this at a bigger scale… take all my weird bits of knowledge and share with a larger audience. Head melted i started my first web page a week or so afterwards, a treatise and clearinghouse about the history of Hemp in Japan. The page was endlessly long as i didn’t realize the concept of multiple pages linking together but like the endless scroll feeling of the page — mountains and rivers without end, its seemed organic and right away, there was conversation and community sparked as i quickly met other folks exploring nascent hemp culture. Within a month, i was importing hemp surf trunks and trucker wallets to sell on island and also sending my research out to publications.
Realizing the my lifestyle/hobby of the Grateful Dead was no more (ostensibly anyhow), i made plans to leave Guam and head to Olympia Washington where i could mop up a long overdue college degree and find a place in all of this new web stuff.
Within 24 hours of landing in a strange climate and town, where i set up a tent in the woods by Evergreen College, i met some heady looking guys setting a booth to sell tie-dyes the next day at an annual campus fair. I asked them for change for the laundry and they asked “are those hemp overalls?” Yeah man,… of course this led to the usual passing of the bowls and swapping tales of tour. The next day i learned they also had just opened an ISP called OlyWa.net. “Come on by,” they said. I did and joined up and crashed coursed myself in TCP/IP, POP, PPP, HTTP and all the other acronyms i could and, seeing the 3 dudes werent exactly “people persons”, i worked my way into the biz as the marketing guy. This was a wild great ride from 1996-2000 when we sold it (a whole other story including the acquiring company requiring me to take a drug test… they tried anyhow).
Then moved back up to Vancouver, working for Raincity Studios making new-school database driven content rich, community building sites, Warner>Rhino was a client and was able to do some work on the site which brought me to the Internet in the first place. I added my fuzzy photos and hazy memories to the list of shows and felt something about full circle. Also by this time, my first web project about hemp in Japan had been published extensively and i had High Times staying at my house and related fun and chaos.
Then, moving on i was the first Marketing Head at Hootsuite – a social media tool in full startup mode. We were 10 in a dingy office and i was charged with growing the audience with basically no budget. But years of hustling the Grateful Dead lot and making enough to get to the next show and have a good time doing it, came in handy as i recruited an international team, fed them stories and together built community around our users including epic campaigns at SXSW where i went back to my Dead roots and created the Hootbus which was a modified short bus turned into a party on wheels as we’d roll the streets of Austin getting people “On the Bus” just like on tour — well kinda anyhow. In my barrage of public speaking which came along with the ride, i shared stories (to tech heavy audiences) of building community on tour, the resourcefulness needed to build and move, the “one hug at a time” ethos which i espoused to treat each user like our favourite.
Then last year, The Grateful Dead did the 50th anniversary shows and Hootsuite reached a Billion dollar valuation. Im still the same guy, sitting on a porch with a smoke and cut off jeans wondering when the next show is and how i can share the story.