This Is A Dream We All Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead by Blair Jackson & David Gans is impressive, deep, and heavy. This book is an achievement of work and scholarship and many, many pages long.
It is an attractive book: the dust jacket is a creamy and rich white, like the stationery of a law firm that does not hire Jews. Is this white innocence? Or is it a subtle play on the Eastern tradition of wearing white at a funeral. “White = Dead.” Cleverly played, J&G, but then we notice that gold is another voice in the cover’s chorus and we hearken back to the Golden Road and this book cover changes everything before I’ve even mentioned the font.
The sub-title, which is required on books lately seemingly by Congressional mandate, and the border around the picture are the gold previously mentioned, and they have been inlaid into the thick paper via some sort of mechanical process: they catch the sun and fling it around the room; meanings and perspective swirl in my vision; I am overcome by the shock of realization: truth depends on how it’s illuminated.
The picture chosen of the band shows them and their youngest, handsomest, and alive-est. Phil looks like a human middle finger: every fiber of that young man is screaming FUCK YOU to everything in sight. Pig is trying to look scary, but Billy is legitimately menacing.
Garcia’s eyebrow game is on point.
TIAADWD: AOHOTGD by BJ & DG (I’m exhausted after that and this book shall hereafter be known as Dreamed) is a hefty tome, but not preposterous. You and a dog could play fetch with the book, but it couldn’t be a very small dog. If you threw it at a person, the damage incurred would be greatly dependent on whether you hit them with the flat part, a corner, or an edge. You could probably calculate with a 1d6 roll.
The spine of the book is unremarkable. The name is printed in a way that, when displayed on a shelf, causes people to tile their heads to the right to read it. This is one of the many ways the world fucks lefties that you never realized until now.
The back features advance praise from two people who I don’t know (Wavy Gravy and Greil Marcus) and one person who has called me a genius in print and probably regretted it ever since (Nick Paumgarten). Wavy Gravy’s advance praise includes the sentence “It leaps straight out of the tree-flesh to dance in our dreams.” and I just now realized that “tree-flesh” means paper and y’know what? Still doesn’t make a lick of sense.
Greil Marcus’ praise is lovely and gets to the prosaic nonsense that is what I so much love about show business: the nuts and bolts hassles of getting to the gig on time, maaaaan, that enables the jams.
Nick Paumgarten is a man of charity and kindness whose words I devour greedily. He is a family man, and a man’s man; he has stopped traffic on more than one occasion to allow animals to cross the street safely; he smells like a good education.
Sometimes, I disagree with his choices in punctuation.
Removing the dust cover of Dreamed, we find a solid plain of deep, almost navy, blue with an embossed Flatiron building in the lower right corner. Does it represent–
–the forces of capitalism, or…excuse me, I’m reviewing a book.
We all know what you’re doing. You are being terrible.
I believe in through reviews.
You are literally judging a book by its cover.
Little bit, yeah.
David Gans–who has been a great supporter of yours–was kind enough to send you this expensive-ass book and you’re being terrible.
Little bit, yeah.
Tell the nice people about the book.
Sure. Gimme ten minutes.