How do you hide money from a hippy?
Put it under the soap.
Dirty hippies. Dirty god-damned fucking hippies.
While I am grateful for what the forefathers of counter culture represent, I get sick of the reverence. Back in the 60’s, a revolution in music, fashion, politics, and sexuality caused a psychedelic wave to come crashing down on Frisco, and its ripples spread across America in a dirt weed-induced awakening. The Grateful Dead, seemingly in the right city in the right year, made a mark on music that is undeniably groovy. They set the stage for all things counter culture. They were the sound track to a rennaissance.
And then my generation was handed the baton, and we promptly set it on fire in the backyard, or made a bong out of it in shop and fell asleep on the couch watching Ren and Stimpy. My generation followed the tune in, turn on drop out crowd a little too well. We had Nirvana telling us to, “Nevermind,” Beck allowing us to be, “Losers, Baby,” and before Jersey Shore and Teen Moms, we had Beavis and Butthead, and my favorite game show of all time, the EzeBoy laden, Remote Control. None of which exactly inspired my friends and I to take to the streets.
Today’s kids took the baton and vlogged about it on YouTube, sold it for a profit on EBay, or made a fanpage on FaceBook and used it to organize a demonstration. Since the mid-90’s while I was busy entering the 36 Chambers and asking Whut?, these young bucks were forming internet startups and dot comming their way to millionare status. These new kids understand it better than we did. They looked at us and asked what the Fuck? They are a new breed of conquerer. We were conquered while talking about our great ideas. Talking. It’s all any of us ever did. Talk about how great we could be. Talk about how bullshit the system was. Talk about what we were going to do about it. Talk. Talk. Talk.
The Grateful Dead. Jam band extraordinaire. Genre smashing masters of all things blues, bluegrass, jazz, folk and rock in a weed grinder. We all rolled it up. We all inhaled. We all laid on our backs on beanbag chairs staring at black light posters at someone’s house whose parents never seemed to be home. We might have even been that kid. I had a poster of Jerry Garcia in full Uncle Sam get-up, unshaven and looking like some whimsical prince on the wall of my dorm room. Bob Marley and Garcia participated in a staring contest across an eight foot cinderblock dorm room for two semesters. I used to sit and listen to stories from a dreadlocked drum circler about how such and such a show was this or that. Mostly the stories were about the music played in between songs and drugs. Admittedly, both fascinated me at the time.
The Grateful Dead to me are that unfullfilled promise of cultural advancement. They are a needle in the arm of something iconic. A period of time wasted by too many drugs and hypocrisy. They inspired less of the social change the 60’s supposedly represented, and more the Sunset Blvd. hotel-bashing, heroined hair metal gods. These are the generation of dudes that either died because of this shit, or are wearing Wrinklefree Dockers and golfing a couple of times a week. And Fuck those guys. All we ever learned from you is that doing anything about anything isn’t fucking worth it because we’re all gonna sell out in the end anyway. We rejected it. Ate potato chips and loitered around 7/11 parking lots. We pretty much avoided responsibility at all costs. Total fucking slackers, because what’s the point anyway, right?
Well Fuck us, and Fuck the Grateful Dead and their hippy uncles and shit! The bottom line is the shows are less about music and family and culture and more about drugs and drugs and the same whose cooler social structure that governs everything. Did I mention drugs? It’s all bullshit. No mystique. No secrets. No magic. Sure they called themselves the Warlocks, and sure they seemed to cast a spell on a generation, but the only disappearing they ever taught me to do was when cops showed up.
I understand their place in music history, in cultural history even, but can we stop with pretending the Grateful Dead were somehow more than a band, more than the great songwriters and musicians they were, more than drug addicts? The Grateful Dead will forever be remembered as the guys who defined a period in history, and inspired legions of fans to join in the circus. That is some shit of which one should be proud. I don’t need to hear one more hippy ever tell me about that show in ’79; or another tale about how one time at a Phish concert in college.
It’s time to actually let The Grateful Dead live up to their name.
Let us be grateful.
Let them be dead.