Thoughts On The Dead

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

The Crowd Pressed Round

You haven’t thought about weaponized stampedes, have you? You’ve probably barely given a second thought to stampedes in general, let alone ones pointed at specific targets for military/political reasons. How would one even weaponize a stampede, anyway? Sharp shoes?

What about artificially generated weaponized stampedes? How much prepping have you done when Obama begins Operation: Mob Rule and artificially generated weaponized stampedes start popping up left and right? Just want some Sbarro’s? Sorry, you’re getting trampled by an AGWS.

Well, Enthusiasts, your inattention–criminal though it may be–can continue unabated because someone has done your thinking for you. A gentleman somewhere outside of Wheeling has come up with a plan.

OBJECTIVE:  Try to convince one of the band members to explicitly inform fans that… legitimate emergency stadium evacuation orders would NEVER be delivered via their personal phones.

Yes, fellow Enthusiasts: this summer’s Chicago shows are under serious threat of AGWS attack. Terrorists (one would assume) are planning (or PREPARING) to call or text a significant percentage of the crowd (during the show, when phone conversations will be easy) and tell them about an emergency, thereby inducing panic and generating (artificially) a weaponized stampede.

This plan has flaws.

Even our assumptions must be questioned: can a stampede be weaponized in the first place, and, digging to a more primal place, can humans stampede in a deadly enough manner to even be used as a weapon?

People are good at smushing each other against fences or trampling one another at concerts or retail superstores, but these are more rightly called crushes, rather than stampedes. (This New Yorker article by John Seabrook from 2011 is a great primer.)

Bison stampede, and they’re good at it. Besides ruminating and being on nickels, stampeding is the thing bison are best at. Anything in the way of the stampede will be obliterated, because bison weigh a million pounds and run a million miles an hour for a million hours straight. They also travel in very large packs, but I don’t want to guess the exact size.

If a person is in the way of a bison stampede, that person is getting fucked up by bison: first off, the size and speed and number thing. Second: bison have feet the size of dinner plates, and they will step on you. Third: as the bison are stepping on you, their lumpy buffalo genitalia will smack you in your face, and American bison have dicks made of razors, and balls made of lemons with their peels removed, and pubes made from salt. You will be hurt very badly.

People stampeding, though, is a pass. It’s just not workable from a physiology and physics standpoint: for a stampede to develop any force, it needs a certain density/weight and speed. F=MA, y’dig? Picture the bison – a solid line hundreds of yards deep with two-ton beasts running at 35 mph. That’s power.

People just aren’t heavy enough and fast enough to do any real damage, especially in a stampede when around half the participants will have tripped over one another ten feet into the chaos.

(A stampede is a mobile riot; a riot is a stationary stampede. Discuss.)

And that human stampede I just thought-experimented at you was (I’m declaring after the fact) made up of athletes and the fit and the young. The stampede (weaponized) at the Dead show is going to be made up of, you know: old fuckers, mostly. Most people will have kept themselves in shape, but time marches on, and this stampede (weaponized) will be hampered by the pace, which may be described alternately as an “amble,” a mosey,” or “just settin’ one foot front o’ the other, brother.”

A bunch of bearded dudes in carefully-chosen vintage t-shirts bumping into things does not a stampede make.

So, I don’t think we have to worry about the effect, but what about the cause. We are warned that the stampede will be started via smart phones. The terrorists (one would assume) would hack into the mainframe and call a large number of people in the stadium during the show. The terrorists (one would assume) would then communicate scary messages to the recipients, causing them to freak out. Soon, a critical mass of people will have freaked out, and boom: your weaponized stampede has been artificially generated.

Leaving aside the sad, weird silliness of this whole thing – what if? To make the calls, you’d need live people because you can always tell a recording over the phone. So, you’d need a whole call center of people doing this and they would have a script, right? “Help me,” or “You need to leave the stadium,” or whatever and the day comes and all of the callers have their script memorized, except for Jenkins.

“Hello? Who is this?”

“Yeah, hi? You at the Dead show?”

“Uh, yes. Who is this, please?”

“You should get out of there. Bad shit, man. Gonna get all freaky up in there.”

“Who is this? What?”

“Never mind who this is: an authority figure. Or something. RUN. YOU GOTTA LEAVE THE STADIUM. YAAARRGH!”

“You panicking?”

“No. Who is this?”

“Dude, I’m the guy out in the parking lot keying your car and fucking your wife.”

“We didn’t drive and my wife is right here next to me.”

“Dammit. Listen, man: you don’t know me, and you don’t owe me anything, but it would really help me out if you could lose your shit and, like, run people over.”

“Lose my shit?”

“Yeah, you know: panic.”

“Full-on, hands-waving, frothing at the mouth and pushing old ladies out of the way panic? That’s what you want?”

“Could you? It would be huge for me.”

“The thing is: I don’t think anyone would notice. Most of the people at this show are higher than they’ve been in decades.”


“Literally decades. Lord Ganesh could waltz in here and make love to a terrordactyl and half the crowd would be ‘Oh, shit, man,’ and that’s about it.”


“Y’don’t know ’til ya try, huh? Kid, I like this attitude of yours. Hold on.

“No go.”

“No? You did the arms?”

“Yeah. People thought it was a cool variation on the noodle dance and now the whole section’s doing it.”

“What about the running around and screaming and pushing people out of your way? That didn’t work.”

“Oh, I didn’t actually do that: it’s rude.”


“Now, son: stop working for nefarious call centers catering to shady organizations  run by evil terrorists (one would assume) and fomenting lunacy and maelstroms of whatnot when people are trying to get their boogies on. Go back to school, learn a trade, and find Jesus. I saw him in Calgary, but it was an acoustic tour. Good day to you, sir!”

So, you know: no real danger. It might rain, or be real hot. It’s gonna be real hot.

1 Comment

  1. I get the crazy notion someone saw my article.

    I enjoyed your take. I like the concept of a Nigerian phone bank calling everyone at the show. “Listen man, some serious shit is going down right now!!! You gotta get your vegan ass outta there! There ain’t no peace and love. Someone just shouted FIRE (on a crowded mountain) !!!

    For the record, I don’t think there will be an artificially generated stampede at the Soldier Field Dead show. However, I DO think that Bob Weir would be a good candidate to explicitly warn fans that LEGITIMATE emergency venue evacuation orders would NEVER come from your personal cell phone. Please know — it’s really about the NFL. But I’m pretty sure you figured that out.

    If you go, I’ll be there on July 3rd. Gimme a ring. My contact info’s on the agsaf site.

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