Have you seen this book called How to be Like the Grateful Dead in the Business Places or Something: Business Innovations from the Long Strange Trip? Something like that, but the actual title is under the page on which I am working and I am just that committed to doing NOT ONE jot of research for these bloggings, even when now I kind of want to know. I shall, however, resist.
A book like this can succeed on two fronts: it might have cool new photos or stories about the band, or it might have a coherent and well-considered thesis that the presence of the Dead only augments. The book falls short in both categories. There are some good pictures, but nothing revelatory. There are, for instance, no photos of Billy in his Spring ’85 tour alter ego.
Billy always adopted a tour alter ego, someone to transform into when the romping got to stomping and the hotel bar started eyeballing him. Billy’s tour alter ego was usually a horrible, vicious man named The Chasm. Luckily for some, Billy would presage the arrival of The Chasm, announcing in the style of the delightful street urchins on The Wire, “Chasm coming!” and everybody would just clear right out except for one guy who would lazily wobble his head towards Billy and ask, “Chasm? Cool, man. Is he holding?”
But 1985 was different. The entire band had been out of their heads on the MDMA that tour, but Billy had shifted paradigms on ’em again and undergone a massive change in temperament, renaming himself Slobber T. Johnson. He’d walk around pantless with his crank in his hand sweetly inquiring of anyone who passed by, “Hello, I’m Slobber T. Johnson. Are you slobbering johnsons? My johnson sure does need a slobber, you johnsonslobberer, you.” and it just goes on like that.
So not only does it disappoint that there are no pictures of the event, it also confirms my skepticism about the whole project as just a cheapjack move to make some blood-money. [EDIT: In no way is the income derived from writing a semi-serious book about a country-rock jam band “blood money.” We renounce the writer of the previous statement, and as all-powerful editor, replace him with ourself.] FREEDOM! [Who let him out? Who the fuck let him out?] I will DESTROY the SOUL of the UNIVERSE unless you RELINQUISH the GAUNTLET OF GANTHET! [Shit, he’s fully capitalizing now. It’s bad.] The JAWS of my DARK ANUS will CHOMP on your NETHERS until you–
Guys. Guys, enough. Thank you: it was cute until the “dark anus” and then…you know, we just can’t be having it around the kids.
I am SORRY.
Back to work, now.
The entire concept of this silly book is that you should take advice from a group of orangutans who had had more than one conversation involving the phrase, “He went where with the money?” Normal human beings might have that conversation once due to no fault of their own, but they never have it twice. You pay attention the second time. Not our heroes. For all we know, they might have chosen who to give the money to by who had the most pocket space. The Dead leaked a lot of cash. They behaved, in other words, completely contrary to every business practice known to man.
I’m betting the book is going to hit on the Dead’s early adoption of fan clubs and mailing lists as some sort of evidence that the Dead “really were the first social networkers.” Next time someone tries to tell you that the telegraph was the Victorian twitter or somesuch, headbutt that fucker til he dies.