As I mentioned, there was a scholar’s conference this week in Albuquerque, a city I have recently learned how to spell, and some of our commentators and FoTotD (Friends of Thoughts on the Dead) were there. If you don’t know what a scholar’s conference is: college professors and people who will agree to hang out with college professors assemble in a hotel to discuss things, gossip, interview for jobs, and have sex with one another.
(When academics have sex, they always decide beforehand as to whether the sex will be in MLA or ALA format.)
There was some high-level intellectualizinating going on New Mexico, but this slide (tweeted out by the apparently hairy Jesse Jarnow, whose book Heads can be pre-ordered here) is not up to grad-level standards. This is the Freshman orientation class. Now: the exact dates? This is knowledge for those with their L.S.D. (Licensed Scholar of the Dead.)
It should be noted that very few other band’s timelines so prominently features a coma. Good work, Grateful Dead.
There are, however, many other ways to split the Dead into eras not as common as “who’s in the band?” If “who’s in the Dead?” was a question worth asking, then how could the answer ever be “Vince” or “John Mayer?”
TotD presents Different Ways to Era-fy the Dead:
That’s not a goddamned word and you know it.
Hey. Stop. I capitalized things and then there was a colon. Bullet points now. You can’t talk.
It’s weird how you invented this place and still don’t understand how it works.
Maybe just like the real God.
You’re worse than Scalia.
Sure. I will continue: Different Ways, blah blah.
- How much hair did Billy have? A lot? Then, it is early in the band’s history. Less than before? Later.
- Instruments. (A crucial point in the Dead’s career was when Garcia decided that guitars should weigh 25 pounds; another was when Phil went to the six-string. Do you know that Phil’s decision to go to six instead of five strings was partially based in numerology? Six is divisible by two and three, and once you have two and three, you can come up with all sorts of mystic-sounding math bullshit.)
- Doomed relationships with record companies, including their own.
- Kind of off-topic, but no one has ever done a scholarly work linking the performance of the Dead and the performance of the Tamalpais Chiefs flag football teams; that’s just academic malfeasance.
- Road managers.
- Who was doing the tapes. (That’s actually a good one.)
- Swimming tests passed. (Billy was always a dolphin, but Mickey was afraid to put his head underwater and had to kick around the shallow end with the Guppy group for most of the summer. Phil refused to take any of the tests or join any of the groups, shouting at the instructor, “I’m gonna stand in the corner of the pool with a beer, man!” Bobby started out a Seahorse, then became a Flounder, and then a Bowhead Whale, and finally a Moray, at which point he bit someone.)
- Was the money about to be stolen, or it had just been stolen?