The Henry Miller Library Stage, synonymous with wonderful live music for over a decade, burns down to a smoldering, ashen pile in Big Sur, CA

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The Henry Miller Library Stage, the fabled stage that hosted over 10-years worth of incredible live performances, including Arcade Fire, Yo La Tengo, Phillip Glass, Band of Horses, Animal Collective, and countless others, methodically ascended to the great fire pit in the sky in Big Sur on February 15, 2011, according to Magnus Toren, the Library’s Executive Director.

It was 1,745 years old.

The Stage was born in 266 AD as a redwood seedling (sequoia sempervirens) in Sunny Brae, CA, a small town just east of Arcata.  It’s father owned a local hardware store; its mother was a seamstress.

Library staff and Executive Director Magnus Toren pay their final respects

In the early 1965, inspired by the Beat Movement and Kerouac’s “Big Sur,” the Henry Miller Library Stage hitch-hiked to Big Sur, California, where it got a job washing dishes at Nepenthe.

It was also during this self-described “experimental phase” where the Stage first ingested psilocybin mushrooms.

Soon after, the Stage began studying transcendental meditation at Esalen, where it eventually taught a series of workshops on “Salsa-Spirit Rejuvenation,” a therapeutic spiritual healing program that incorporate elements of Eastern mysticism, a gluten-free diet, and Afro-Cuban salsa dancing.

The HML Stage's "Glamor Shot" circa 2007: candle-lit, utilitarian, a little beat-up

In the summer 1972, the Henry Miller Library Stage left Big Sur to follow the Grateful Dead on their US tour.  By this point, the Stage began drinking quite heavily while also developing a $200-dollar-a-day addition to amphetamines.

“What people don’t realize is that ironically enough, ‘American Beauty,’ the Dead’s most mellow album, was actually made while they were all on speed,” the Stage remarked to no one in particular.

The Stage reached its nadir in the spring of 1974, after it was arrested in the parking lot of a Dead show in Tallahassee, Florida for selling pure Vietnamese heroin out of its van.

It was during its fourteen-month jail stint that the Stage had a “personal experience” with the risen Jesus Christ in the prison shower.  Upon release, the Stage opened a road-side ministry just south of Gainesville.

Happier Times: The Stage supporting Arcade Fire. "The Arcade Fire show was the best," the Stage would later remark

But by the late 1990s, Big Sur beckoned.

The Henry Miller Library Stage migrated back west, and seeking to “give back” to the community which provided so much to it in its formative years, it was installed at the Henry Miller Library, a non-profit art space.

From the 1998 to 2011, the Stage became known as “the hardest working stage in Central California,” hosting dozens of summer concerts, weddings, and food and wine festivals.

“Sure, the stage had some personal demons, but haven’t we all?” Mr. Toren remarked.  “At the end of the day, it was an amazing stage.  And as I stand here, speaking to you, I sincerely believe it’s hosting a killer super-sesh in heaven with Jimi, Jim, Jerry, and Janis.”

The Stage is survived by Henry Miller Library staff and Theo the cat.

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  • The Henry Miller Library Stage is Dead; Long Live the Henry Miller Library Stage | The Henry Miller Memorial Library Blog

    [...] As you may have heard, the Henry Miller Library stage bit the dust. [...]

  • Bootsy

    This is not funny. I nearly had a heart attack until I realized it’s a joke. Thanks alot.

  • CJL

    Bootsy, how far in did you have to read before you realized it was a joke :)

    Great post. I’m heading up the mountain to burn and offer up some Chinese paper replicas of the Stage right now.

  • Anonymous

    Cap’n MT, ye scared tha living shitzkrieg outta me! Are you looking to expand/rebuild/relocate stage(s) around the venue you have increasingly-successfully become? If all goes well, I may be roaming around CA between April-May. If all goes well.

  • BS

    WTF is up w/ this, it’s not even April Fool’s Day! Regardless of whether or not the body of the writing here is entertaining, the pretext it is presented under is just plain NOT FUNNY!!! You scared a lot of folks who have seen many a Big Sur Fire emergency …

  • Emil White

    Apologies if anyone became alarmed by this. It was unintentional.

    Given the nature of the obituary, and the photo, you can rest assured that the Stage left this world on its own volition and in a dignified manner.

  • S. Heilig

    after i read a little piece from PingPong on that stage a few years back, i accidentally touched the wood with my bare thumb, then accidentally licked my thumb, and the next thing i knew it was 3 days and nights later and i was nekkid down on Pfeiffer beach at midnight, howling at the moon.
    i hope you saved some of that wood.

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