Like all properly nerdy sub-cultures, Enthusiasm has its shibboleths and jargon, which serve two purposes (as do all shibboleths and jargon): providing a shortcut to an oft-mentioned larger concept for the people within the group, and providing a tempting, but baffling barrier to the outsider.
The most enduring, yet unnoticed, memetic soldier in the Dead’s iconography is the “>” linking one song to another in a lithe and cracking–
Do not mention Human Centipede.
You’re the worst.
The “>” evolved from the Bic-penned arrow on Maxxell covers, denoting that a song had flown into the next without stopping. On the internet, it started as “–>” but quickly lost the dashes while still maintaining its meaning. (It’s actually neat that Deadheads, with no planning or intention, invented an ideogram.)
But did you know that there were other symbols used for decades by assiduously anal tape collectors?
> A smooth and creative transition between one song and another, accomplished through clever key modulation and natural tempo change.
/ Bobby gets bored and starts the Around and Around riff.
__v Instead of a smooth transition between songs, the band smokes for six minutes.
< A rare Rider>China transition that was enabled by Time Sheath technology and accidentally erased the Revolutionary War and it took months to set things right and Billy punched General Cornwallis in the dick.
o/o Song contains an AUD splice in which audience members can be heard high-fiving.
^ Indicates that in between songs, Billy climbed the rigging.
^v Indicates that after climbing the rigging, Billy screamed “Banzai” and sky-ambushed an innocent groupie.
~ This rare symbol let tape-collectors know that Bobby would be singing the song as–and I am quoting–“Soy Señor Roberto el Sexy! El lapiz is amarillo! Donde es el baño!” After the show, Phil had to explain to him, A: that made no sense; and B: stop it.
θ The next song’s sine is its opposite angle over its hypotenuse.
$ During this song, Lenny Hart and Rakow were going through the bands’ coats backstage looking for small bills and McDonald’s gift certificates.
===D O: Only appropriate in one long-lost (thankfully) show, this symbol represents the time Morgana the Kissing Bandit’s cousin, Roxana the Tweaking Stripper Giving out Beejers showed up.
😎 > :O Suprisingly useful for labelling early 80’s shows, this emoticon lets you know that Phil has lost his glasses.