Death Is Not The End, Part 5:
Blues for Allah
Both Cobain and Garcia had the mantle of messiah thrust upon them. Cobain, without the ego sealant necessary to protect his soul when it was overexposed to a baying public and it's attendant media, saw no other way out and took his own life. Garcia and the Dead just kept lumbering along year after year as a cottage industry built up around them. Not only were they the number one touring band in the country as far as gate receipts are concerned, but they were a Fortune 500 company. In fact it seemed that in the last few years of their existence the mainstream finally caught up with the band and everywhere you'd turn the infamous "Steal Your Face" logo was crossed with everything from the Volkswagen logo to the mascot for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. The trademark skull was cross-pollinating everywhere.
Bringing it all back home however, what the Dead represented was a movable feast, a traveling commune that kept the spirit of the Sixties alive well into the 90s and was able to make a decent profit margin after the overly romantic notions of pure, blissful communism faded into the realities of marriages, children, property and responsibility. To some people, though, the fans of the Grateful Dead were challenge-challenged lemmings, no more, no less, desperately trying to find in the scene a social outlet where the utopian promise of the Sixties could live forever, yet obliviously tripping right into the maw of capitalism. Another posting I found in rec.music.gdead:
Subject: You've been scammed!!
Date: 13 Aug. 1995 21:46:09 GMT
I guess you now intend to follow Phish. Just what Elektra and Phish's promo intended when they engineered the gdead-like following about 7 years ago, seeing all you desperately soul-searching amongst other ignorant, random, and misguided defunct children of upper middle class suburban homes hopelessly gazing stoned at the same shows, year after year, with the same people there to join you, the same boring illicit activity, and the same overall sense of worthlessness that being there evoked. At best you'll call me "ignorant" or "blind". You fit well into the record companies portfolio entitled "Economic Outlook 1996-2040: Bands Which Satisfy the Phenomenal Desire of the individual to be a Part of a Herd" Bah, Bah, Sheep.
In the last few months before the untimely death of Jerry Garcia, the omens that the road was at an end were very blatant. First, ironically enough, fans struck by lightning; secondly, rioting (!?!) fans in Deer Creek AND St. Louis. Another posting on rec.music.gdead:
Subj: Letter from the Band Section: The Dead
To: all Thursday, July 06, 1995 6:13:00 AM
This is the letter passed out at the close of last nights show:
This Darkness Got to Give
Dear Dead Heads:
This is the way it looks to us from the stage.
Your justly-renowned tolerance and compassion have set you up to be used. At Deer Creek, we watched many of you cheer on and help a thousand fools kick down the fence and break into the show. We can't play music and watch plywood flying around endangering people. The security and police whom those people endangered represent us, work for us -- think of them as us. You can't expect mellow security if you're throwing things at them. The saboteurs who did this can only do it if all Dead Heads allow them to. Your reputation is at stake.
Don't you get it?
Over the past thirty years we've come up with the fewest possible rules to make the difficult act of bringing tons of people together work well -- and a few thousand so-called Dead Heads ignore those simple rules and screw it up for you, us, and everybody. We've never had to cancel a show because of you. Think about it.
If you don't have a ticket, don't come. This is real. This is first a music concert, not a free-for-all party. Secondly, don't vend. Vending attracts people without tickets. Many of the people without tickets have no responsibility or obligation to our scene. They don't give a shit. They act like idiots. They think it's just a party to get as trashed as possible at. We're all supposed to be about higher consciousness, not drunken stupidity.
It's up to you as Dead Heads to educate these people, and to pressure them into acting like Dead Heads instead of maniacs. They can only get away with this crap if you let them. The old slogan is true: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.
Want to end the touring life of the Grateful Dead? Allow bottle-throwing gate crashers to keep on thinking they're cool anarchists instead of the creeps they are.
Want to continue it? Listen to the rules, and pressure others to do so. A few more scenes like Sunday night, and we'll quite simply be unable to play. The spirit of the Grateful Dead is at stake, and we'll do what we have to do to protect it. And when you hear somebody say "Fuck you, we'll do what we want," remember something.
That applies to us, too.
Billy, Jerry, Phil, Mickey, Bobby, Vince
Death Is Not The End, Part 6:
I Hate Myself And I Want To Die