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Backstage passes, concert posters, old stage props, and fan mail were all the buzz at a press conference last week at the Fillmore Auditorium. San Francisco psychedelic rock pioneers and Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famers the Grateful Dead announced the donation of the band's extensive archive — which documents the group's history from 1965 to the present — to the University of California at Santa Cruz.
It was initially unclear whether one famous item of apparel would be part of the archive: Bob Weir's famous cutoff denim shorts. While Catherine Bach may have introduced them into pop culture in her role as the leggy cousin of Bo and Luke Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard, if there's one person who is responsible for bringing Daisy Dukes — the outrageously short cutoffs — to rock 'n' roll, it's Weir.
Throughout the '80s and '90s, the Dead's rhythm guitarist sported the decidedly male-inappropriate garb onstage during the band's summer tours, earning good-natured ribbing from legions of Deadheads as well as eternal infamy in the Urban Dictionary, the online arbiter of colloquial slang. "Weirs," as they're defined, are "a pair of very short shorts worn by a male in the style of Grateful Dead guitarist Bobby Weir. Normally attired during the summer months and accompanied with a tank top."
Sadly, at last week's press conference, the now-60-year-old Weir — who was joined by Dead percussionist Mickey Hart — appeared without his trademark hot pants, instead opting for a more appropriate blazer-and-Birkenstocks ensemble. But that didn't dispel the notion that the "jorts" he once donned might make an appearance at the newly renovated McHenry Library, where the collection will be housed.
"Those particular shorts could be included in the archive," the graying musician said from the podium, "but I think I could do better by putting them up for auction and giving the money to a worthwhile charity. But you never know."
So Deadheads visiting the archive, which is expected to be open to the public within the next two years after being inventoried, will have to wait to see if a pair of Weirs makes it down to Santa Cruz. Weir told SF Weekly after the press conference that the university's historical preservationists might have a tough job on their hands if they permitted visitors to try on his infamous nut-huggers.
"They wouldn't make it through the first butt that hit them," he said with a laugh. "Those things are threadbare. I mean, they started out as jeans back in the '70s. I wore them until they were no longer serviceable as jeans, and then I made them into the cutoffs. They ripped across the backside at one point, but I still wore them for a while afterwards. I just didn't turn around much. But I still got 'em. They're a little fragile now, but if I lose about 10 pounds, I can still squeeze into them if I have to."