Breaking news, my fellow Enthusiasts: the Hiatus was a lie! Well, not that it occurred: the Dead played only four shows in 18 months. That’s fact. What’s not fact is the reason why. We were all told it was because the Wall of Sound and the Wall of Drugs were driving them into bankruptcy and insanity. True, but not the only reason. In fact, not even the MAIN reason.
In the Summer of ’74, the Dead played a gig that appears in no database. They appeared as ringers in a local Anal Creek, WV, talent show to raise money for Li’l Possum, whom the city doctors had proclaimed was, “just as fucked up as you can be and still be alive. You want me to kill it? Let me kill it: I’d be doing everyone involved a favor.”
Well, they won, and raised that money. To thank them, the townspeople gave them a hospital, short on staff but long on love: St. Stephen’s Medical Center.*
Billy became Chief of Staff and immediately improved the hospital’s standing, financially and medically. From the top brain surgeon to the lowest psychiatrist, everyone respected Billy’s simple management style. He had one rule: “Y’sure you wanna do that?” And only one punishment. You knew where you stood with Billy. And sometimes, you knew where you lay in the fetal position, tenderly cupping your battered banana while puking.
Phil immediately went Phantom of the Opera: like, during the very first walk-through. Not only was Phil skinny, but he could dislocate his hips to the point where he could shimmy through an 18-inch pipe and he ran away from the group right when they got in the door and SHHOOOOOOP right into a duct and no one saw him for a month or so.
Garcia became the pharmacist and then four minutes later he threw up on himself and passed out, so the road crew instinctively put him on a plane to Milwaukee.
Vince would wander the halls convincing people to let go and follow the light, but he wasn’t all that good at judging how sick people were, so he would end up with a lot of 12-year-olds getting their tonsils out and 55-year-olds getting their knees replaced. Vince would clutch them tight (otherwise, they would squirm away) to his chest, and whisper, “Stop fighting. Be with your ancestors. THEY CALL TO YOU. Succumb. Succumb!” People lodged formal complaints; it was the kind of thing you filled out paperwork about.
Keith “would fuckin’ thank people to stop mistaking me for a corpse, please. I’ve had CPR administered on me four times today. Stop it: this is just the way I look.”
Bobby was the crusading internist/trauma doc/diagnostician (which is not a thing) of the hospital. He could heal anyone…but himself: Dr. Bobby, M.D. He battles with the suits, makes love to Nurse Donna Jean and tries to find a lead in the case of the disappearing livers.
Brent was a male nurse. He was gentle and kind and shaved all the ding-dongs.
*Yes, we’re all quite aware none of this makes sense and this bit makes no sense in particular. You’re very clever to have noticed.