Time Travel Treasure Trove

My old buddy, Marty, just sent a package out of the blue. You can always expect some t-shirts to randomly arrive since Marty’s been making ’em by the thousands for SF Bay Area bands, companies, and events since the late 70s.

This time, he  included a stack of papers I had sent him back in the mid-80s — a set of hand-drawn invitations for parties I helped host through the 80s. I had discovered it was easier — and cheaper! — to throw a party every so often than to try and go out more often socially. Going to the bars cost money. Backyard beer bashes with simple snacks were cheaper and sufficed to draw an eclectic crowd of friends ad co-workers and strangers. In fact, the stranger the better — up to a certain point.

I’d sent Marty these invitations (15 or so) shortly after I’d hooked back up with him for the 1986 Grateful Dead Greek Theater shows. That was the first time I’d seen him in 9 years and he actually left town while I was there, so we never had much chance to catch up. By writing a bit of a narrative thread on the back of each flyer, I kinda caught him up with some of my interim shenanigans.

Seeing the flyers again and reading the notes really sent me into a rabbit hole of sorts. Thought I’d give you a glimpse today of some of these tiny Time Machines.

Creedmoor Revival — September 26, 1980

My 26th birthday party and we were going all out. My roommate Jeff’s band, the Subterraneans, would be rocking as the house with no fears of disturbing neighbors since we had none, living in the country 15 miles south of Austin.

Someone had the brilliant idea to call it in to the local radio station, so, my friend, Pat, was listening to the local music listings when they announced, “The Subterraneans are playing at the Creedmoor Revival — wherever that is.”

But before the party got started, I managed to wreck my van and ruin my finances for the next five years. When my friend, Lynn, picked me up, he agreed, “Yeah, ya done fucked up.” He immediately shifted gears, adding, “But nothing you can do about that now. Tonight, we’re gonna party and get you fucked up!’

We did manage to have one helluva party that night.

Pre-Mortem  parties (81, 82, 83)

In 1981, after I moved to Christopher Street, the Grateful Dead announced a return to Texas with 2 shows, one on July 2 at the Houston Summit (now Joel Olsteen’s super-pretentious mega-church), followed by a Manor Downs show on the 4th of July.

We decided to sandwich a party in-between. Hosting it in Austin the day before the Dead show, I figured it was only natural to call it a Pre-Mortem party.

For the next two years, each time the Dead returned, we hosted more Pre-Mortem parties. Pre-Mortem II featured a new line-up of the Subterraneans playing the backyard — with no noise complaints all night! But when a follow-up party with the band a couple of months did bring the cops out, the third Pre-Mortem was relocated to Pat’s place in Del Valle over similar noise concerns.

Gatsby in Bubbaland

My parties became a regular habit. Whenever I didn’t have one for a while, co-workers and friends would ask when the next one was. Needing no real excuse for a party anyway, we threw them a few odd ones along the way — Friday the 13th parties, “Look Before You Leap” Leap Day party, “No Excuse for a Party,” even.

Looking back, I realize perhaps I might have been trying to use these backyard beer bashes to look for a lover, much like Gatsby’s legendary (if fictional) soirées masked his desire for Daisy. Once or twice, a brief rendezvous might follow the party, but none of those really panned out past the immediate situation.

The stack of party invites spans the time from the Creedmoor Revival right up to a party a week before I headed out to the Greeks in ’86 and met up with Marty. I know we continued to throw a few more at the Christopher Street house, but I’m pretty sure we slowed down, too. Come 1987, I got busy being involved with ACTV and the cable re-franchising request (more on that later). 1988 saw Jessie get sick and there seemed little reason to party as I ping-ponged back & forth between Austin & Houston during the time she valiantly fought the brain cancer. After she died in early 1989, I continued to spend a lot of time visiting  my grieving family in Houston.

And I already told you what happened that Thanksgiving.

So, while there may be more party flyers out there somewhere (I could not find the one for my 30th birthday party entitled, “Over the Hill But Not Yet Out of the Woods,” dammit!), I must’ve lost my files of them. Looking back at the ones Marty sent back to me has been like taking a quick zoom time traveling back to my late 20s.

What a trip!


About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
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