Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Higher Deaducation

I’ve never been afraid of admitting I was wrong: in my case, it’s the pragmatic way to approach life, as I am wrong so often that I might as well accept it, learn something, and move on. There will, in fact, be a stream from tonight’s surprise Fillmore show; I linked to it in the previous post and–since it’s on YouTube–I might just toss the sucker over to my big screen and peek in. Maybe I’ll even let you know what I think.

(Anyone there? Send me some pics, so I can stop stealing them from people on Twitter and Instagram.)

But until the show starts, here’s some excellent reading material: the always illuminating Jesse Jarnow reports on the Dead Scholars convention, and Deadology in general. Serious critical study of the Dead has been building for years; the field’s gotten almost large enough to be respectable, due to two facts: one, the Dead and their corpus of work is as worthy of study as any other 20th century artist; and two, there are simply too many academics in this country. I advocate a cull.

Please stop calling for culls.

Are you saying the professorial herd doesn’t need some thinning?

In no way am I saying that. Pointy-headed flibbertigibbets, the lot of ’em. But you can’t call for culls.

Aw. Anyway: it’s a great article; go read it. As usual: I have many grievances. Firstly, Jarnow uses the piece like a whore uses a pee-soaked mattress. He plugs his book, Head: A Biography of Psychedelic America, so relentlessly that you’re tempted to check out the book, or perhaps this glowing review from the New Yorker about it, or maybe even go to the sidebar and purchase the sucker.

(TotD sniffs at commerce, of course.)

But second: as with so much written about the Dead, there’s so much he left out. I refer to this passage:

A whole academic rainbow prisms outward from the Dead’s Steal Your Face logo. There are sociologists, economists, feminists, philosophers, historians, poets, radio hosts and more. Nick Meriwether wishes there were more anthropologists.

Jarnow has merely scratched the surface of Dead Studies, and I will almost certainly accuse his of being in the pocket of Big Dead some time soon, but for now, I’ll just share some Dead-focused academic fields not mentioned in the article.

Ethnomusicology After a five-year study, a team of respected ethnomusicologists decided that the Dead’s music was “not all that ethnic.”

Maritime Archaeology Billy has sunk so many boats that three separate researchers were granted three separate grants to study the situation; only one drowned.

Psephology At the last Dead Scholar’s conference, a guy came in and said “I’m studying the Dead vis-a-vis psephology,” and everyone said, “Oh, really?” Then, they asked him to write the word down, and it did not help. Cool guy, though.

Zoology Was all the road crew human? And: was the road crew all human? There’s fascinating work being done in the field.

Theology Father Seamus O’Seamus has rocked the academic Dead world with his recently-approved dissertation: Five Men Think They’re Jesus, One of them’s Gotta be Wrong: God, the God Complex, and the Grateful Dead.

Philosophy of Music One would think this would be an attractive and welcome member to the Dead Studies family, but it’s just hundreds of pages of “But was that a D minor chord, or a ‘D minor’ chord?”

Indonesian History Not a lot of attention being paid to the Dead by the Indonesian History experts. Gonna be honest with you. Racism? Maybe.

Philology It means something else.

Plus, Enthusiasts, there is a lovely mention–the kids call it a “shout-out”–to TotD in the article; if you’re too busy to read the whole thing, then here it is. You’ll notice a lovely compliment in there from a very big muckety-muck, Sir Nicholas von Meriwether:

The expanded universe reality-show aspect comes to the fore most vividly via the freeform Grateful Dead ahistorical blog known as Thoughts on the Dead.

“Some of it’s absolutely magnificent work,” says Dead archivist Nicholas Meriwether of TotD

I would like to thank Sir Nicholas for those–

Hold it.

–kind words…yes?

Don’t do that.

Do what?

Why does the quote cut off like that?

Paste the rest of it, please.


’s fact-laden kin.

Ah. Changes things.

Just a bit.

Only the meaning.


I can’t even look at you.

Also: the livestream that I posted? Since I started writing, it has been revealed to be some idiot scamming asshole fuckwad troll.

No stream?

Apparently not.

I can’t look at anyone.


  1. I burned Jesse’s book after what he did to you vis-a-vis choogle.

  2. Uh Oh.. Loose Lucy, is Sammy up there

  3. Robin Russell

    May 24, 2016 at 12:39 am

    We need more Pharmacologists in the field too.

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