No one in the Dead ever had an earring, left lobe or right. Let’s be honest, Bobby wanted one and Garcia could have gotten away with wearing one, but if any of them had shown up for Summer Tour orientation (before all tours they did some trust exercises, got to know their new keyboardist, and did the fire drills that the insurance company had been mandating recently) with a stud or hoop dangling pirate-like, there was a certain word that would be used, and it begins with an “f,” and you know what it is.

Is it faggot?

Are you kidding–

What the fuck, dude?

–me with this?


Earrings for rockers came in a little bit later, out of the gender-bending hard and glam factions of the rock and roll Duma. For hippies, the line between dudes and their old ladies was strenuously enforced, long hair and man-skirts notwithstanding.

(I used to have earings, a small stainless-steel hoop in each ear and my primary memory of them is that the man who put them in had the worst body odor I’ve ever encountered. Dead birds and traumatized bloodhounds littered his wake.)

Perhaps the Dead didn’t adorn themselves because of their Hell’s Angels connection: the Angels most certainly did prefer their spangles and baubles. The Angels dressed for dinner.

Earrings and tattoos used to have meaning: that you were a sailor or a complete lunatic or a homicidal maniac or an Ivy Leaguer. Now they mean that you had a hundred bucks and a ride to the mall. Everything changes; nothing lasts.