• February 23, 2011
    http://www.dead.net/features/blairs-golden-road-blog/dead-er-thou
    Dead-er Than Thou

    There’s a debate that flares up every so often in Deadland (most recently in the discussion on the promo page for the 1988 Road Trips) in which older Heads castigate folks who came to like the Dead during the late ’80s “Touch of Grey”/In the Dark era, the implication being that those fans weren’t hip and cool enough to have gotten into the band earlier, and only embraced the Dead once they had become commercially successful. The worst and most cynical of the arguments — and I’ve actually heard this several times through the years — is that to have climbed on board during the late ’80s (or early ’90s) was to actually contribute to Jerry’s death! The tortured logic of this is that because of the band’s increased popularity, their touring machine became ever-larger, which put more pressure on the group to play big shows and to stay on the road, thus preventing Jerry from getting a break from touring he once offhandedly mentioned in an interview he wanted, and contributing to his downward health spiral and eventual death. Whew! Now, there’s a load of BS.

    Unfortunately, there’s always been a “Dead-er Than Thou” attitude among some Dead Heads — as if when you started liking the Grateful Dead, how many shows you attended, who you knew in the inner circle and what privileged access you had to information or tapes (or both!) were the measure of your knowledge of or devotion to the band. I can’t honestly say I’ve been completely immune to this affliction myself, but I learned pretty early on that there were always going to be Heads who had been following the band longer, seen more shows, owned more tapes, plus had that prized laminate hanging around their necks I so coveted. So if it truly was a competition, I was never going to “win.”

    Of course it’s not a competition. How and when you got into the Dead could be a function of million different factors — your age, whether you had friends who were into the band, whether the Dead’s tours came to your city/region, if you had a good experience at your first show, if they came onto your radar at all… the list goes on and on. Maybe your first exposure was being trapped on a long car ride with some crazed Dead Head who insisted on playing a really badly recorded audience bootleg that featured terrible, off-key singing and what seemed like pointless jams. Then, three years later, someone dragged you to a show and you suddenly “got it.” Or maybe you had a boyfriend or girlfriend who hated the Dead and, even though you were kind of curious about ’em and wanted to go to a show, forbade you from going! (Wow, harsh!)

    Whatever happened, happened, and you should feel no guilt about and make no apologies for when you got on The Bus. Heard “Touch of Grey” on the radio, loved it, and wanted to hear more? Fantastic! Welcome aboard! The fact of the matter is, the mid- to late ’80s and the early ’90s was the Dead’s greatest period of fan growth ever, and thousands upon thousands of people who got into the group then became loyal and devoted fans who were every bit as enthusiastic, hardcore and knowledgeable as the grizzled veterans who lorded their longevity over them like some royal talisman. We all have legitimate regrets about what we might have missed in previous eras, but I can honestly say that whenever you succumbed to the Dead’s ineffable magic — that was the right time for you.

    Since my biography of Jerry — Garcia: An American Life — came out more than a decade ago, I’ve gotten dozens of letters and emails from people who never had the opportunity to see Jerry or the Dead at all. Many were almost sheepish about it, as if it reflected some character flaw in them that they’d “missed” Jerry, yet in the months or years since his passing, they’d gotten into recordings of the band, the (love)light went off in their heads, and now they were obsessed, too. There’s no Grateful Dead to see, so they’ve gotten their live kicks seeing Phish or DSO or Furthur or whoever lit that light for them in concert. And perhaps they’re just starting to understand the charms of ’76 Dead or ’88 Dead and catching up on the history and what the scene was (is!) all about. Again, I say, welcome aboard! There’s an unlimited amount of room on this Bus; the more the merrier!

    Do you have a story about getting on (or missing) The Bus?

    26669
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There’s a debate that flares up every so often in Deadland (most recently in the discussion on the promo page for the 1988 Road Trips) in which older Heads castigate folks who came to like the Dead during the late ’80s “Touch of Grey”/In the Dark era, the implication being that those fans weren’t hip and cool enough to have gotten into the band earlier, and only embraced the Dead once they had become commercially successful. The worst and most cynical of the arguments — and I’ve actually heard this several times through the years — is that to have climbed on board during the late ’80s (or early ’90s) was to actually contribute to Jerry’s death! The tortured logic of this is that because of the band’s increased popularity, their touring machine became ever-larger, which put more pressure on the group to play big shows and to stay on the road, thus preventing Jerry from getting a break from touring he once offhandedly mentioned in an interview he wanted, and contributing to his downward health spiral and eventual death. Whew! Now, there’s a load of BS.

Unfortunately, there’s always been a “Dead-er Than Thou” attitude among some Dead Heads — as if when you started liking the Grateful Dead, how many shows you attended, who you knew in the inner circle and what privileged access you had to information or tapes (or both!) were the measure of your knowledge of or devotion to the band. I can’t honestly say I’ve been completely immune to this affliction myself, but I learned pretty early on that there were always going to be Heads who had been following the band longer, seen more shows, owned more tapes, plus had that prized laminate hanging around their necks I so coveted. So if it truly was a competition, I was never going to “win.”

Of course it’s not a competition. How and when you got into the Dead could be a function of million different factors — your age, whether you had friends who were into the band, whether the Dead’s tours came to your city/region, if you had a good experience at your first show, if they came onto your radar at all… the list goes on and on. Maybe your first exposure was being trapped on a long car ride with some crazed Dead Head who insisted on playing a really badly recorded audience bootleg that featured terrible, off-key singing and what seemed like pointless jams. Then, three years later, someone dragged you to a show and you suddenly “got it.” Or maybe you had a boyfriend or girlfriend who hated the Dead and, even though you were kind of curious about ’em and wanted to go to a show, forbade you from going! (Wow, harsh!)

Whatever happened, happened, and you should feel no guilt about and make no apologies for when you got on The Bus. Heard “Touch of Grey” on the radio, loved it, and wanted to hear more? Fantastic! Welcome aboard! The fact of the matter is, the mid- to late ’80s and the early ’90s was the Dead’s greatest period of fan growth ever, and thousands upon thousands of people who got into the group then became loyal and devoted fans who were every bit as enthusiastic, hardcore and knowledgeable as the grizzled veterans who lorded their longevity over them like some royal talisman. We all have legitimate regrets about what we might have missed in previous eras, but I can honestly say that whenever you succumbed to the Dead’s ineffable magic — that was the right time for you.

Since my biography of Jerry — Garcia: An American Life — came out more than a decade ago, I’ve gotten dozens of letters and emails from people who never had the opportunity to see Jerry or the Dead at all. Many were almost sheepish about it, as if it reflected some character flaw in them that they’d “missed” Jerry, yet in the months or years since his passing, they’d gotten into recordings of the band, the (love)light went off in their heads, and now they were obsessed, too. There’s no Grateful Dead to see, so they’ve gotten their live kicks seeing Phish or DSO or Furthur or whoever lit that light for them in concert. And perhaps they’re just starting to understand the charms of ’76 Dead or ’88 Dead and catching up on the history and what the scene was (is!) all about. Again, I say, welcome aboard! There’s an unlimited amount of room on this Bus; the more the merrier!

Do you have a story about getting on (or missing) The Bus?

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There’s a debate that flares up every so often in Deadland (most recently in the discussion on the promo page for the 1988 Road Trips) in which older Heads castigate folks who came to like the Dead during the late ’80s “Touch of Grey”/In the Dark era, the implication being that those fans weren’t hip and cool enough to have gotten into the band earlier, and only embraced the Dead once they had become commercially successful. The worst and most cynical of the arguments — and I’ve actually heard this several times through the years — is that to have climbed on board during the late ’80s (or early ’90s) was to actually contribute to Jerry’s death!

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I've experienced both ends of this equation. I was on the "ground floor" for Phish, having seen them for free playing at Hobart College in 1989, and seeing them at Union College for five bucks in 1991, and I remember when they weren't selling out small theatres. And I'm also a Johnny Come Lately to the Dead, having seen my first show in 1988. But I saw the first three Further shows with John K. Does that make me an "OG" as far as that band in concerned? The whole Dead-er than thou thing is silly. If you are giving people crap for not "being there when", maybe you've got too much of your self identity to wrapped up in a rock band? What inadequacy within yourself makes you treat a newcomer to the Grateful Dead so poorly? That's the real issue here, friend. The music is there for anyone and everyone who can enjoy it.
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I got on the Bus in '77, I was into Hard Rock at the time. I listened to a variety of music at that point, my mom had tons of 45's and most of them were 50's rock, with some Beatles mixed in. My sister had a growing record collection and it was pretty diverse. I was into history at that time and was learning about the 20's and 30's. I came across Europe 72 and songs like Brown Eyed, Ten Jed, Ramble On, Jack Straw reminded me of that time period. I liked storytelling songs and wow these guys sounded fun. I even got into the long jams right away, thanks to many stoned nights of listening to early Chicago and Yes. I missed Donna and Kieth because I did not see 1st show until 81. I did blame the out of control scene on the "Touch Heads" (shame on me) I guess because I came from a scene where the shows were never crowded in early to mid 80's. I am trying to say we all had to start somewhere and I never should have passed judgment on the new fans at the time.
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Someone had to finaly blow the lid off the "Deader than thou" phenom. Thanks for doing it, Blair. We all seem to have some narcissistic need to preserve the specialness of what we were part of, as opposed to those "others". I am not immune, but really try to stay away from it and stay closer to the spirit of people's enjoyment. I started listening to the Grateful Dead in about 1980 when my family borrowed Workingman's Dead from the Lincoln Center Library in NYC. It became a family favorite since the Dead have roots in all the music my father listened to and played himself (blues, folk, bluegrass, country, early rock and roll...) Because of the familiarity of the music, I kept listening and finally saw my first show in 1984 when I was old enough to go do stuff like that by myself (I was 15...different place, different times, and definitely different parents).
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I'm not sure I'm a TouchHead - tho IN THE DARK is one my alltime favorite albums -- no doubt had an album or two prior to 1987 - the What a Long Strange Trip double, maybe even Blues for Allah. Went to 3 shows - the one with John Fogerty is the only one I remember, I know one was on my friend's birthday (also an Oakland show) and at least one Shoreline show that could have been before or after any of the others. In early 2008 started acquiring live shows (deadpods mainly) and everything else I could find at the local record store... but still figuring out what Phil sings.... ;>)
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Started getting tapes in '88. First show JGB Cap Centre 11/91. First dead show RFK '92, seen about 30 more after that. Even though I never seen earlier shows, I could tell alot of folks was there for the party! and it was not just young people. I'm very thankful to the "old heads" who welcomed me with open arms!! By the way, when was the first " rush the gate" incident at a dead show? I bet it was before the '90s. Deer Creek just had that many drunk, reckless people around to start something major! and very sad. Thank you again to the "old heads" Peace!!
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Don't know, maybe I'm missing the point here. I probably did on that post as it was a little off-topic - maybe seeming Deader-Than-Thou. The topic is a keen incite and way overdo. I really didn't like those "Heads" who were deader Than Thou and there were thousands of them who always knew way too much more than you did and made you feel you missed the good old days -- till Wavy's pronouncement after the show at Kingswood in 84 ("These are the Good Ole days) put an end to that buzz-killing for me. I really have to beg to differ on the karma part. Whatever happens to you is your karma, your fault. Nothing can happen to you that you didn't create the causes for. Even the year you were born and when you tuned in. But don't worry, it'all happen again, and maybe sooner than you think. I'm really surprised that you would think that harsh. For me it's just truth. I've tried to turn so many people on to the Dead and watched them slump. For what it's worth, I like Furthur, but the Grateful Dead scene and it's energy was coming from ol' Jer, right up to Phil's Box of Rain at the end.
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In 1973, I was nineteen-years old and stationed in southern California in the military. I got an apartment off-base with some other rock and rollers. One day, my roommate suggested we go to a concert. I gave him money and trusted him to get tickets for something good. He got tickets to a Dead show at Universal Amphitheatre. I had no clue… Our seats were front row or nearly so but behind Keith’s back so we could hardly see the band. We danced around a lot and, during the second set, I recall sitting on stage leaning back against the piano (for a moment or an hour I have no idea?). I have been Deadicated ever since. I did not go to all that many shows but caught whatever I could when they were nearby; my last Dead show was 1984 – just circumstances mostly. I saw some Jerry shows too, and later Ratdog, Phil and Friends, and the Dead tour in 2009 with my eldest son. I recall walking out of many shows talking about favorite songs, jams, etc., and hearing someone pontificating about how bad the show was compared to others they had seen. I always wondered why someone would go to that much trouble to have a miserable time. A favorite odd audience memory is from 1977: some people near me just did not appreciate a nice long Spacey Jam, and one said, loudly, “Enough is enough. You’d think they would at least play their hits!”
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How about Woodstock? There were a lot of problems outside Dead shows in '70 and '71--too many folks!--and that's what led to them broadcasting so many shows in the fall of '71....But what happened at Highgate and Deer Creek in '95 was definitely a low point...
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I was first exposed to the Grateful Dead's music in the early 1980's. I was just a teenager and every Saturday my parents would take me to ride horses outside Madison Wisconsin. The stables were managed by two graduate students from the UW in Madison WI. It turns out they were Heads from Chicago, and I was quickly turned onto the music of Dylan, and the Dead. This couple had a profound influence on me and I value the memory of their friendship to this day. My first Dead album was Workingman's Dead on cassette, which I still have. My first show was at Alpine Valley in 1986, I think and I remember they people standing around me were so nice and welcoming. I listen to tons of Dead music to this day, but their music really turned my onto different kinds of music. Now in on a big Miles Davis kick, but riding horses and listening to Workingman's Dead was a great experience, I wish I would run into my friends from the riding stable again and thank them for turning me onto great friendship and music.
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I stopped touring in 93 so can't say from actual experience about Deer Creek or Highgate, which is in my neck of the woods, however, I have heard a lot and even seen some of the footage on You Tube. First, any venue that was insane enough to host the Dead in the last years better have had it's shit together. We're talking 1995 -- meth, AIDS, heroin, nitrous mafia. If they didn't have a million cops around (for show & order only!!!) then they were just plain stupid. Maybe those venues and their towns wanted the Dead there for the $$$ it brought in, but they couldn't be unaware of what a scene it had become. Just not possible. There were other forces pushing The Grateful Dead at this time. To think of the condition Jerry was in and that a Fall 95 tour had ben set up with tickets sold is sickening. The Deader Than Thou part? If you didn't know you were watching something self-destructing by 93 and you were still "enjoying" yourself on tour. I can't say what I really feel here because certain topics can't be spoken of on this site.
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I had older cousins that were really into the Dead in the early '80s. In 1982, when the band came to Long Island that April for a few nights at the Nassau Colisseum, my aunt & uncle wouldn't take my cousins to a show. Somehow my cousins convinced my parents to take them. With no babysitter available on Easter Sunday, my brother and I had to go also. I was 7 and a half years old and the arc of my life was forever changed. After this, our family vacations three times a year were following the band around the North East. Later we even added a fourth vacation to the Bay Area for New Years or February runs in Oakland. Eventually, I moved to SF and still live here. I admit to some Deader-Than-Thou behavior. This was mostly because many of the kids that got into the Dead in '87 had been making fun of me during elementary school and middle school for wearing tie-dyes and for being a boy with long hair. They would see the skulls and skeletons and ask me if I was a satan worshipper. Suddenly my freshman year of high school they all wanted to hang out with me and even asked me to "hook them up." Resentment? Yeah. But I got over it. It's a Big Bus after all, right?
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I was only 12 years old and I guess Quicksilver and the Airplane and Blue Cheer were there, but I was dosed at the time so the only thing I actually remember was seeing Bobby on the stage and wondering what that kid was doing up there, and thinking that he better get down from there before he got in trouble. Rev. Tom Church of the LSD Saints
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I started seeing shows in the latter 70's and my last was St. Louis prior to the final Chicago shows. Not your typical deadhead in some ways, but I found a bliss at the shows I can't find anywhere else. But toward the end it was a harsh environment, period. I recall being the second car in line, waiting for the gates to open, at a 90's Palace (Detroit) show. The car in front of us, first in line and our immediate neighbor in the lot, contained two pretty serious hoodlums there only to sell bogus acid in the parking lot. I watched them recruit up some lot rats (scruffy, young druggie kids) to run around the parking lot selling for them. The hoods left, sold out, before the show even started. Spooky guys, we didn't talk to them and they ignored us. Another time we were walking back to a hotel from a Soldier Field show and young thugs had set up a nitros station in a small parking lot. The folks really appreciated the balloons but it was very clear that the guys selling the stuff were not Dead fans in any way. Very organized operation, long hose from the tank hidden in one place to a milling crowd in another place, watchouts with radios sitting here and there on car roofs scanning traffic. Anyway, lots of folks were crashing our scene toward the end. There's good stuff, too! We once stayed in a private campground near Deer Creek that was an amazing place. No cops allowed, all fenced in, a muddy pond in the middle and a highway about 30 yards over there. What a fantastic place to stay for those shows, all the best of the lot scene was there and none of the BS. Tanks hissing in the distance, a naked guy sitting on and playing a drum near the main path, artwork and incredible shirts, the works. Really happy people in every direction and no problems at all anywhere. Well, one problem....finding designated drivers to get to and from the show. Ta.
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It's April 67 and my older brother Alan's on a swing spring break from Cal."Michael come in here" he says. He plops down a record he's hiding behind his back on our brown boxey Motorola. The needle drops on the LP.... Organ swirl, blast-off "See that girl barefootin' along"...When the roof of my mouth dropped..and I returned to earth..he showed me the cover...things never quite looked the same again..and never have since. First show 9/15/67 Hollywood Bowl.. the Janis got busted.. Dead'll do an extra set show. Incroyable!!
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As embaresing as it is to admit, I turned down pit tickets to SPAC 1983 from a senior in my German class when I was in 10th grade. He wanted to turn me on to the GD but all I cared about at the time was seeing Men At Work. Yes I do admit it. Anyways I didn't see either that summer. Somehow the Music gods invaded my mind during the next year and I found myself going to SPAC 1984 with my brother and friends. My friend Dave (God rest his soul) and I heard that you could sell tie dye t-shirts at the show so we bought some containers of cheap RIT dye and made about 10 shirts. We had no idea what we were heading into! Needless to say we learned real quick about how serious people were into the whole scene. We still managed to sell our shirts for $5 a piece and I also remember (to my embaressment) refusing a t-shirt for Jerry poster trade as I wasn't sure if I was really into it. Dancin' in the Streets opener produced, well quite a "lawn dance" which amazed me, although my friend Dave and I spent most of the show trying to stay out of the rain. I remember being disapointed that I only knew a couple of the tunes that night. It wasn't till Halloween 1985 in Columbia SC, my third show that I really "got it". I haven't looked back since!
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great topic!the very first time I listened to GD had to be around 81. I was in 7th grade and my best friend's family was having a garage sale. His mom was selling his older brother's records, which included Lynard Skynard, Black Sabbath, and GD's Working Man's and Skull and Roses. We picked out the records and listened to them, having never heard any GD before. We were warned 'its acid rock, it will melt your mind' I don't remember anything distinct about hearing Bertha for the first time except that our impression was 'This is NOT scary!!' I bought In the Dark and Skeletons in 88. I loved the 'hits' but I did not get any closer than that. I dont get high and I dont like the contact buzz, so I never attended a show. In 2006, I joined a GD tribute band in Detroit, playing bass. We never played out, and again, another tribute band in 2010 in Houston. This band played out a few times, but folded after some memebers insisted I leave or get high. I love GD, I love how I can listen to a 76 recording of Me and My Uncle, and then a version from 91. I love how the band grew and the songs evolved. I am very impressed with all the musicians but most impressed with Jerry. He was so brave to keep challenging himself with new styles and playing with artists in different styles. And I like all the GD jrs - Phish, String Cheese, etc.
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My first intro to the Dead was in 1970 courtesy of KZAP in Sacramento. Mr. Smith, our hippy art teacher, had his stereo tuned to to 98.5 on the FM dial and that's all it took. My friends "forgot" to invite me to the Kezar show in 1973. My first taste of Jerry was New Years Eve that year when he joined the Allman Brothers and Boz Scaggs to jam into the the morning at the Cow Palace. A second attempt at a Dead show in 1974 fell short-it rained and Bill Graham let the crowd into Winterland early-no tickets. Little did I know those were the last shows before the Hiatus. There were some epic JGB and Kingfish shows enjoyed during the break-one memorable night at Winterland when Nicky Hopkins was with the JGB stands out. Finally, the first show was one for the Ages...Golden Gate Park. That began a run of some amazing shows-Winterland NYE runs up to and including the Close of Winterland. From Egypt with Love 10-22-78, a Reno show (watching people tripping hard in casinos afterward was a highlight), Keith and Donna's last show at Oakland Coliseum, the Warfield shows, early Oakland Auditorium shows at NYE, the Greek Theater runs, and the Who and Dead Day on the Green. Somewhere in the early 80s there was a definite shift to the vibe in the crowd. I remember a lot of pushing and shoving up front, people arguing about being "in their space". Finally it was easier to listen at home instead of dealing with attitude while trying to trip on the music. It felt pretty weird to miss shows, but easier to watch from a distance. Listening to friends talk about all the "wannabe" deadheads convinced me I made the right choice. I really enjoyed the attitude of those who acted like in was an inside joke-if you didn't get it, you weren't part of it. Sad to see.I just got back from catching an evening with the Allman Brothers at the Beacon-the 40th anniversary of the recording of Live at Fillmore East. There was a kid kneeling at the balcony railing in front of me holding a brand new vinyl copy of the album. He was probably sixteen or so, and had been into the Brothers for a year. He was there to get his copy signed. Right behind me there was a dad with his 9 year old son-his first show. New blood keeps it alive and the Dead are no different. Reading the blog about the release of E72 and the resulting panic was amusing. It appears in the end that most got the full bells and whistles version, but the hysteria whipped up in between was a hoot. Everyone got pilloried...new fans, old fans, people trying to make money off the Dead (like that NEVER happened before), Blair Jackson, Rhino, Phil, Bobby, you name it, they were responsible. Somewhere a lot of Holier than Thou folks forgot...it is all about music. WWJD and I ain't talkin' 'bout Jesus...
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(sorry, it's not every day you hear from someone who invokes the name of KZAP any more...)
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Ahhh...the Golden Age of Rock Radio...KZAP and KSAN. You could not possibly listen to these stations and not have your musical world expanded exponentially. I still remember the meditation hour on the early KZAP-an hour of humpback whale songs or something similiar. I'd love to get my hands on an old KZAP cat bumper sticker.
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My first show was on NYE of 1972-73. I had recently moved to Berkeley from the east coast, having just graduated from college. I arrived in September, so on New Year's Eve I had no party to go to because I didn't know anyone. My roommate and I heard that Country Joe McDonald was playing at Mandrake's, a long-defunct bar on University and San Pablo. My roommate and I took a couple of Quaaludes, just to make things interesting, and went down to Mandrake's around 9PM. Ten minutes after we arrived, a couple of guys walked up to us and said, "We have four tickets to the Grateful Dead at Winterland but we've taken acid and can't drive. If you drive us over there, we'll give you our two extra tickets." Well, that sounded just fine to us so we got into my car and headed over to Winterland. We arrived in time to catch the end of the New Riders' set. The place was packed and we lost our friends but found some space on the floor. When the Dead came on I don't remember much about the music, except for the fact that during the slower songs, drums, and space my friend and I kept falling asleep because we were on 'ludes. Not the drug of choice for a Dead show! At some point during the show, some guy appeared on the light rig, balancing precariously. The music stopped, and Bill Graham came onstage to talk the guy down. After what seemed like an eternity, the guy moved off the light rig and was grabbed by the roadies. The music started again and then of course pandemonium broke out at midnight. The show ended around 4AM and my friend and stumbled out onto the street, not really knowing what hit us. A year or so later I got a job at Mt. Zion Hospital, just down the street from Winterland. Periodically throughout the years, when I saw the people gathering outside the venue as I walked to my parked car, I was bewildered as to what all the fuss was about. I had totally missed the bus due to my poor choice of drugs. A few years later, I met some people who were into the Dead, and was intrigued by descriptions of their experience at shows. in 1981 I was invited by a friend to see a couple of shows up in Oregon, so I went. the first show was at the MacArthur Pavilion on the U of Oregon campus, across the street from a graveyard. Everyone was hanging out in the graveyard (which seemed so appropriate), being mellow while they waited for the doors to open. I totally dug that scene! Then, during the show, they played Shakedown. I had heard the song on the radio and liked it a lot, but it sounded so different live! I turned to my friend and started pounding him on the chest, shouting "I coulda been seeing these guys for the past 9 years and I MISSED IT!" That was the moment I *got it*. From that day on I saw every Bay Area show, plus some shows in Southern California, Sacramento, and New York. I've seen a total of 250 shows between that first show in 1972 until Jerry died. I made some lifelong friends, had some amazing experiences, and heard some great music. The Dead changed my life, for sure. I guess I missed some of the best years, but I had some great times and I realize that there's no telling when you're going to get on the bus, but when it comes by and it's your time to get on, you just get on.
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I was turned on to the Dead when i first heard the studio version of ripple and I couldnt stop listening, months later a friend and i went to see The Dead at shoreline amphitheatre, not the grateful dead, but the dead, in 2009 for i was born in 94' and never got the chance to see jerry live. After that show not much has made me happier than the grateful dead. i spend a good part of my day listening, and finding many amazing sbd and audience recordings anywhere from 65 - 95.The only up side to being born as Jerry fades away is that i am looking at the band as a whole, no prejudice to any time period, as each has its own ups and downs, and its all unique in its own way. I have also been to a few Furthur shows and theirs nothing like it, and nothing at all like the shoreline show back in 09, but as i sit here listening to the scarlet>fire from this april 88 show, i know their was once something even greater and i couldnt even imagine what it would feel like to be their. and the same goes for when i hear an "alligator" from 20 years earlier. Were all here reading this post because we all love the dead, as long as your their for the music, then everythings ok, if anyone thinks i cant listen to these recordings or go to see Bob and Phil live because i was born too late then they are very mistaken, my life wouldnt even be half a life without these guys music. if it wasnt for younger people carrying on their musical spirits, then eventually nobody would be left to do so. Long live the Grateful Dead, They brought overly excessive amounts of happiness to me in my generation, im hoping some can still see it in the next.
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I had to laugh when I saw this article. Not because I found the topic comical, but more because I've been the newbie and delt with the deader than thou attitude alot. I came to the Dead in a very roundabout way. In the early 90's I moved from Canada to the US as my father's military career had us move to Virginia Beach, Virginia so he could work with the US Navy. Before that we had lived in Toronto and I was more into punk, metal and alternative music then what I saw as dippy hippy music. During my three years in Virginia, my highschool years, I was constantly being besiged by friends to give the Dead a chance, but my Harder Core than thou attitude kept me from doing so. That and the case of being exposed to horrible auidence tapes. I just didn't see what all the fuss was. After highschool I returned to Canada, this time to the East Coast and settled into University. The town I was in was a university town and had the obligatory art house cinema. That's where I saw the movie Naked Lunch. I was already a fan or David Cronenburg's films, but Naked Lunch got me into reading Burroughs. Burroughs gave me exposure to the Beat Generation and eventually I started reading Kerouac, Big Sur was my first taste, and I fell in love. In a local record store I found a CD collection of Kerouac reading selections over jazz (Thanks Rhino). The liner notes had blurbs from writers and authors that had been inspired by Kerouac. One of those blurbs was by Jerry Garcia. That got me curious and I slinked into a local record store, not my usual one, and bought my first Dead album, Wake of the Flood. I got home and put on the album and I started to get it. From then on I purchased more albums, keeping my love of the Dead as a secret from my friends..which I found later found comical as they had their own musical guilty pleasures...early Genesis, Steely Dan, Rush, etc. I never got to see a Dead show and I still haven't over the years. Lack of funds, no shows near, no one else to go with...there are always excuses. About a decade later I did start attending local jam band festivals in Southern Ontario, where I had relocated to. I got in with a great group of friends who didn't judge me when I claimed that the Clash was still the only band that mattered, but smiled kindly and just kept sliping me new discs from bands they thought I would like. Some of their friends though, they took one look at me, rocking out to a dead cover band (Caution Jam) wearing black jeans and a Crass (as in the band, not as in obscene) t-shirt and automatically dubed me a poseur. Later they quizzed me on Dead trivia. I failed. I didn't know the dates when members had joined or left the band, I couldn't run down famous set lists and worst of all I haden't memorized all the lyrics. For people that claimed to be open minded they closed off immediately. They were polite, but you could tell they thought I just didn't get it. One night my buddy Brian and I were winding down a night at a festival and had retired to sit around a campfire and just shoot the sh*t. I told Brian about how some of his friends were acting. Brian was sort of a Neil Cassady figure to many in our small scene, everyone seemed to know and like him. When Brian heard who was giving me attitude about my lack of Dead knowledge he laughed. He told about when those people first came into the scene, how they knew nothing then. He asked me if I really liked the music. I said that I did and he said that was all that mattered. We all need to remember that we all start somewhere at sometime. I think sometimes some folks love the music so much and have spent so much time learning about the band and its history that they can't accept that someone could hear a single Dead album and "get it". It's almost as if they think to themselves "Hey this guy hasn't put in his time, how can he talk about the Dead". In my own opinion enlightenment can come in an instant, that's what happened to me. One night with Wake of the Flood and I was hooked. Of course looking back I can see the road that brought me there, but it's only a road if there's a destination at its end.
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where's that Like button?
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songcat7 It's so great to see that cat Rumi chiming in with his take on things, and the Montana & Idaho partners, too. And yes, I'll share the strange & miraculous & ordinary with anybody, anytime... That moment of utter, astonished sweetness and enthusiasm, excitement could be on any face, in any parking lot, in any decade. Remember what that bro Suzuki said in Zen mind, beginner's mind?
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Thanks so much for blogging Blair, it is really fun to get to "hear" you regularly. The whole post-Touch of Grey phenomenon topic reminds me of an editorial you wrote in the Golden Road on how to treat the newcomers and deal with the increased crowds. It was great--thoughtful, well-reasoned, cool, etc. And, like so much of of what I read in The Golden Road, basically totally echoed my views/concerns/hopes. Then the article got reprinted in Harpers! http://harpers.org/archive/1988/01/page/0026 under the title "A Deadhead's Dilemma." I was thrilled. Then I started wondering--wait a minute, is Harpers making fun of us? Until that minute I always thought I knew what was "serious" and what was "ironic" in the magazine--I felt in on the joke. Suddenly I was at sea--maybe I was the joke! How could I discern the editors' intent? It was a postmodern break through (or break down) for me. But still a problem. My relationship with Harpers was maybe never the same, but at least a slightly larger group of people got some good advice about how to handle the late-80s Dead scene! Steve
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Hey Blair, never looked into following/reading someones blog but thanks to a sweet email here i am. 1st anything with The Dead i was interested in was the animation at the beginning of The Grateful Dead Movie as wee one, i can even recall to the same movie or a concert dvd dancing in front of the tv and my parents not asking me to move, then came to Not For Kids Only as a wee larger one, then as a teen searching through my dads collection only for the shows with Not Fade Away, NOTHING ELSE. The sounds were so homely to me there was nothing else as comforting and homely even when i only listened to NFA. Not sure where in between NFA and now when i explored more of this collection, but i have to say im still spulinking and thats been a few years, on the right bus this time ha!! Thanks again Blairgratefully, stu
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...animation in the Dead Movie when they were little. Had my mind blown by it on mo' time the other night at the Dead Movie screening at my local multiplex... so great! I still notice things I didn't notice before each time I see it... And Steveaes... I was mystified but honored when Harper's reran that Golden Road article. Must've been a Head on staff, as the mag was pretty much under the radar always. Anyway, it's been a nice feather in my cap: "published in Harper's" Well, sorta, anyway...
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I suppose, in all fairness that I first arrived at the bus stop the moment I first smoked a joint and heard the Beatles' White Album. I was probably 15 or so, it was the mid '80s and I had been heavy into the Beatles for a while before I ever Turned On. I had grown up with my older brothers' taste/influence in music, Led Zep, KISS, Van Halen, Nazareth, etc. The Beatles were quite the musical revelation when I first "discovered" them. I was mostly familiar with their early stuff at that point, but loved it all. Then I turned on to pot and heard the White Album for the first time. Everything Changed.Suddenly, I was reading, watching, and listening to everything relating to the Beatles (and really, the Sixties in general) that I could get my hands, eyes and ears on. 70's rock was great and all, but this was a whole new world. I just started really grooving on the whole cultural phenomenon that had occured just before my birth. Now, being a "Hippy"(because in my head, all I had to do was smoke weed, put on some sandals and love beads and Poof! I'm a Hippy now:)), and thinking the Beatles were cool, was NOT cool in my neighborhood, my friends & family thought I was really wierd. I became the school's token (& tokin') flower child. I really thought that I knew what the 60's and hippies were all about. I started listening to other psychedelic stuff, Hendrix, Cream, even relatively obscure stuff like Moby Grape, 13th Floor Elevators and so on, but somehow the Dead stayed just off my radar. I had read about Haight Ashbury, the Pranksters and the Dead and all, but I just kinda thought that all of that was ancient history, ya know, I'm sixteen and that stuff had happened nearly 20 years earlier. It's really a trip, now that I'm 40 and writing about these events that occurred 25 years ago to realize how fresh the 60's must have still been in many people's memories at that time. Anyway, eventually I actively sought out a source for this Mythical LSD that had been the catalyst for the whole thing that was so intriguing and attractive to me. I had read Huxley, Castaneda, Ram Dass, Kerouac. Now I needed to find out. I finally tripped for the first time in '86. My dear friends Mom (& my pot connection) Sara, was a real Head,not a Deadhead, but a true freak nonetheless. She agreed to provide us stupid kids fine quality acid, as long as we tripped with her and she could babysit. I dropped a whopping dose of some of the cleanest, strongest acid that I have ever been blessed with to this day. Beautiful. The next morning as the sun was rising, still tripping hard, Sara's boyfriend Jay stopped by. When we were introduced, he said "KC huh? Like Casey Jones?" Blank Stare. He goes "You know like the Grateful Dead song...?" I honestly had no idea what this dude was talking about. Well, he figured that this would be the perfect time to dig out a dusty old record called Skeletons From The Closet. (See? I told you they weren't Deadheads:)) Well, he played Casey Jones for me, and that was cool and all, but really a different song on that album was what caught my ear, St Stephen. Everything Changed. Again. Skipping ahead another year or so, I had added a few Dead albums, (mostly early stuff Anthem, Aoxomoxoa) to my large collection of 60's rock&roll, but still didn't quite "get it", I thought I did, but still sort of assumed that the Dead was a "Sixties band". Then out of the blue, here comes Touch of Grey. Totally Amazed. I remember thinking "Fuck Me, the Dead are still around? How could I have missed this? I mean, I literally had never heard of Deadheads, much less seen one, never heard Truckin' or Casey Jones on the radio, (or if I had, I didn't know who they were) And now all of a sudden here is this band that I thought was this cool, obscure 60's relic all over MTV and the radio. Needless to say I was pretty confused but stoked. That summer the GratefulBobDeadDylan tour rolls within 100 miles of town. I made the mistake of asking my Mom if I could go, Her response? "Bob Dylan? Who?..NO! I said "not The Who Mom, the Grateful Dead!" Anyway, it was not to be. My first Show turned out to be Autzen 8/28/88, 1 year later. ( I was still living at home, but didn't bother to ask permission this time.) I just scored three tix, told my buddy Alex (who was pretty punk rock) and the weird older guy, Blaine, who we partied with (& bought our beer on the weekends) that we were going to the Dead. We road tripped down to Eugene the night before the show, the psychedelic journey began approximately halfway there and did not end for days. This post has already been too long for me to begin to describe our many and myriad adventures that fateful day. However there were a couple of particularly memorable moments. Looking all around the stadium for my friend Colin, who I knew would be there with some amazing weed. At last I gave up any hope of possibly locating him amongst the wildly undulating technicolor crowd and returning to my bewildered and heavily tripping friends' seats in the bleachers, only to have Alex say "Hey isn't that Colin right there?!" 2 rows directly in front of us! Alex, with his Combat Boots, Mohawk and rolled-up jeans Moshing all by himself to Truckin'! Then The Defining Moment. I had purchased Terrapin Station a couple of weeks earlier and loved it, but had no delusions about them actually playing this "old" & "obscure" tune. Sure enough, second set, Terrapin Station! Un-freaking-believable! I literally had an out of body experience, watching Autzen Stadium turning to and fro a mile below myself dancing in the sky&crying tears of joy! And then, out of Drumz... The Other One! Again, I could not have possibly guessed that Jerry and the Boys would rip out this psychedelic gem to feed my head!! "The Bus came by and I got on, thats when it all began"! Overall, I swear, the imagery that is found in the tune The Music Never Stopped, It All happened just like Bobby says on that beautiful day! I do qualify as a "Touchhead" or "In the Darker" or what have you, as I turned on to the Dead before Touch of Grey, but didn't see my first show until after that album's release. However, that being said, I can honestly say that I've never felt any judgement, resentment, or any other kinds of bad vibes from elder Heads. Only acceptance and love. Thanks, Folks, for sharing your wonderful stories. Love, KC
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/While I barely made it in before the hordes(first show 9/3/85). I saw a tremendous difference between the crowd at my first show on 9/3/85 and my 13th show 6/19/88. There is something to be said for getting turned on to a hitless, underground/cult type band by a cool friend over a few bongs and albums, and hearing mainstream media outlets talk about the "freak show party" playing the local shed this summer and every fratboy and his brother coming down to crash the party. I realize that just sounded way harsher than I meant it to. But while numbers were one of the problems. It was more complicated than just that.
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From LA in 90 we hit the tour and always made a lot of money. A lot of money. We didn't have to slum it, stayed in nice hotels and always paid our bills -- right to the end. We weren't into the cult aspect. We loved the scene, even if we arrived a bit late. Summer tour 90 through Boston garden 91 was smokin'. I think the song Picasso Moon could have been about us. You were either buying or selling. A class act is a class act, regardless. Been chipping up rocks from dawn till doom While my rider hides my creases in the other room
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This type of thing, as other commenters have pointed out, is endemic in our world, file under oneupmanship. But I did experience it, as a newbie Deadhead, all the way back in 1970. I got into the band via Workingman's Dead, then went to see them at the Fillmore East in Aug. 1970. So, at high school (9th grade) that year I was telling anyone who would listen about how great the Dead were, when a 10th grader heard me. "Have you ever heard Live Dead?" he asked condescendingly. My answer was no. "Then you don't really know the Dead." Did I feel small.
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Hal R. Knew he meant ~ Peek... PEAK ! lovin your Mountain Times & you are more than grateful ~ what worthy~ seeing what you have.. feeling what you felt.. dang that sounds cheezy .. PEACE I have just recently explored the PNW & what a time I had. The sheer beauty of the land and the Sea ... Like nothing I've seen before ... Leanne
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In Chicago, there was a kid behind me who called the Shakedown before I did. It turns out he never saw Jerry... he just picked it up from the tapes! Wowza.
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hmmmm...I've been seeing dead and extended-family dead shows since 75 or so. i didn't even know this was a phenomena. (maybe cause i wasn't dead enough to be in the "cool guy crowd"?) what i've found is GENERALLY, people who don't like the dead, don't know the dead, or they just don't wanna learn what they don't wanna know. but it's their loss.if people get it and like it, cool. if not, cool. when you get it and like, cool.
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You know the old story about people grumbling that those who showed up late to a work party got the same reward as those who had been at it much longer. But if your cup is full, how could you begrudge someone whose cup became full more recently (or more quickly) ?
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All:My first show was May, 1968 @ the National Guard Armory in St. Louis, Mo. as a junior in high school. Right then and there, I knew I had to move out to where these guys lived so I could experience them more which I did in 1969 (the earliest I could get there based on circumstances). My final three shows were in March of 1995 at the Omni in Atlanta. Early on, in the Bay Area, I could always buy tickets to the shows @ Pacific Stereo just by walking in when they opened on the first day of ticket sales. Later on, this changed and I moved out of the Bay Area soon after. Since I moved, I then started using GDTS and, later, GDTSTOO otherwise known as mail order. I was always, clear up until the end, able to get good and decent tickets/seats thru mail order. All I know about the Dead-er Than Thou phenomenon is that it seemed like to me, all of a sudden there were tons more people at the shows and they were way younger. I never really experienced the Dead-er Than Thou phenomenon because in conversations with other DeadHeads we were just curious about each other's first shows and it was always non-judgmental. This may have been since I gravitated towards DeadHeads my own age. Now, I have heard anecdotally about this phenomenon but I have been unscathed by it personally. Thanks be to you, Blair for writing about this phenomenon in such a calm, reasoned and kind way. As I told David Gans earlier this week on the Well, I have always treasured and valued your writings. Please keep keepin' on.
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This is funny stuff. Reminds me of a girl who was turned onto the Dead before me and acted as if it elevated her somehow. Cracks me up and is so...Ungrateful. I don't care when I got on the bus....I am just happy that it came by and I jumped on for the ride. ★peace
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I guess I'm a little late getting on the bus, but I'm sure glad I found it! When Jerry died in 95 I was going into my junior year in high school. At that time in my life I was in full on Pink Floyd mode. If it wasn't Floyd I didn't want to know anything about it. I was so immersed it was like I had blinders on. Not that Floyd is a bad band to get into, but it can make things get a little weird when your life at 16 revolves around Floyd, pot, and acid. Ahh good times. Thankfully I had a friend, whom I'm still great friends with, who was a Floyd fan too, but he slowly got me into bands like Zeppelin, Dylan, Neil Young etc. Fast forward to about 2003-04 and we went to go see Dylan and the Dead. At this point I still didn't "get it", but went to the show and I had a blast. Even after that maybe 2009ish, we went to go see the Dead when Warren Haynes was with them. I enjoyed it, but still didn't fully "get it". Then about 4 years ago I just started listening to the Dead with a real passion like I never had before. Life was changing, my dad died, shit got heavy. But I was able to see the light with the Dead like nothing else. I always wondered what it would've been like to see Jerry. I feel a real connection with him and not only the way he plays (I play guitar too), but the way he thinks. Also being from Buffalo, I feel a special connection with the Dead. It seems like they always had a blast when they played here and the region in general. Example: 7/04/89 at Rich Stadium. That place is less than 10 miles from where I grew up. I can relate. I was only 10 yrs old at the time, but just to think Jerry and the boys were just down the road having so much fun. I'd like to think if I was just a little older I would've been there with them. But my time to get on the bus was much later. It actually happened at a time when I really needed them. I'm excited to go see Dead & Co this summer at the same venue I first saw Dylan and the Dead, except this time I will for sure have "gotten it"!
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  • milton
    6 months 1 week ago
    A little late to the bus stop
    I guess I'm a little late getting on the bus, but I'm sure glad I found it! When Jerry died in 95 I was going into my junior year in high school. At that time in my life I was in full on Pink Floyd mode. If it wasn't Floyd I didn't want to know anything about it. I was so immersed it was like I had blinders on. Not that Floyd is a bad band to get into, but it can make things get a little weird when your life at 16 revolves around Floyd, pot, and acid. Ahh good times. Thankfully I had a friend, whom I'm still great friends with, who was a Floyd fan too, but he slowly got me into bands like Zeppelin, Dylan, Neil Young etc. Fast forward to about 2003-04 and we went to go see Dylan and the Dead. At this point I still didn't "get it", but went to the show and I had a blast. Even after that maybe 2009ish, we went to go see the Dead when Warren Haynes was with them. I enjoyed it, but still didn't fully "get it". Then about 4 years ago I just started listening to the Dead with a real passion like I never had before. Life was changing, my dad died, shit got heavy. But I was able to see the light with the Dead like nothing else. I always wondered what it would've been like to see Jerry. I feel a real connection with him and not only the way he plays (I play guitar too), but the way he thinks. Also being from Buffalo, I feel a special connection with the Dead. It seems like they always had a blast when they played here and the region in general. Example: 7/04/89 at Rich Stadium. That place is less than 10 miles from where I grew up. I can relate. I was only 10 yrs old at the time, but just to think Jerry and the boys were just down the road having so much fun. I'd like to think if I was just a little older I would've been there with them. But my time to get on the bus was much later. It actually happened at a time when I really needed them. I'm excited to go see Dead & Co this summer at the same venue I first saw Dylan and the Dead, except this time I will for sure have "gotten it"!
  • sisterearth
    2 years 6 months ago
    Nothing left to do
    This is funny stuff. Reminds me of a girl who was turned onto the Dead before me and acted as if it elevated her somehow. Cracks me up and is so...Ungrateful. I don't care when I got on the bus....I am just happy that it came by and I jumped on for the ride. ★peace
  • iceninedawg
    2 years 6 months ago
    DEAD-ER THAN THOU phenomenon
    All:My first show was May, 1968 @ the National Guard Armory in St. Louis, Mo. as a junior in high school. Right then and there, I knew I had to move out to where these guys lived so I could experience them more which I did in 1969 (the earliest I could get there based on circumstances). My final three shows were in March of 1995 at the Omni in Atlanta. Early on, in the Bay Area, I could always buy tickets to the shows @ Pacific Stereo just by walking in when they opened on the first day of ticket sales. Later on, this changed and I moved out of the Bay Area soon after. Since I moved, I then started using GDTS and, later, GDTSTOO otherwise known as mail order. I was always, clear up until the end, able to get good and decent tickets/seats thru mail order. All I know about the Dead-er Than Thou phenomenon is that it seemed like to me, all of a sudden there were tons more people at the shows and they were way younger. I never really experienced the Dead-er Than Thou phenomenon because in conversations with other DeadHeads we were just curious about each other's first shows and it was always non-judgmental. This may have been since I gravitated towards DeadHeads my own age. Now, I have heard anecdotally about this phenomenon but I have been unscathed by it personally. Thanks be to you, Blair for writing about this phenomenon in such a calm, reasoned and kind way. As I told David Gans earlier this week on the Well, I have always treasured and valued your writings. Please keep keepin' on.
  • Graceful_Dead
    2 years 7 months ago
    True that, mkav ...
    You know the old story about people grumbling that those who showed up late to a work party got the same reward as those who had been at it much longer. But if your cup is full, how could you begrudge someone whose cup became full more recently (or more quickly) ?
  • mkav
    2 years 7 months ago
    deader than thou
    hmmmm...I've been seeing dead and extended-family dead shows since 75 or so. i didn't even know this was a phenomena. (maybe cause i wasn't dead enough to be in the "cool guy crowd"?) what i've found is GENERALLY, people who don't like the dead, don't know the dead, or they just don't wanna learn what they don't wanna know. but it's their loss.if people get it and like it, cool. if not, cool. when you get it and like, cool.