DEAR ASK A DEADHEAD
Desperate Dad Bummed by Son's Untribe Vibe
Dear Ask a Deadhead,
My 15-year-old son has zero interest in the Dead. When he started getting into vinyl, I tracked down LPs of Workingman's Dead, Terrapin, BFA, and Anthem, but I doubt he’s played them even once. It bums me out that we don’t share the music that has given me so much joy — and that he listens to nothing but screamo-metal and sludgy, N-word-filled rap. Any suggestions for bringing him into the Tribe?
Dumbfounded Dead Dad
Listen carefully, everyone: Dumbfounded Dead Dad is not alone. I get similar pleas for help every week, and I usually answer them individually and advise parents not to get too harsh on their kids. But it’s getting tiresome, so I’ll address it here. Look, we all had to find our own way, our own people, our own tribe.Your kids have to, too.
Let me first share, a cautionary tale about my ex-road warrior, Mikey Microdot, then, I’ll give you a righteous solution that has totally WORKED.
Mikey Microdot had a 15-year son who was all into Electronic Dance Music and computer programming. As Mikey told me when I went to visit him in prison, “The friggin music is like disco for mentally deficient robots. I had to do something.” What Mikey Microdot did was stage what he considered was the ideal situation for an awakening. During his one weekend of custody with his son, Microdot baked some mega-potent pot brownies and just left them out on the coffee table in the living room, where his unsuspecting son quaffed, like, four of these mind-melting munchies down. One hour later, the kid is having a panic attack and calls his mom — Mikey Microdot’s very pissed off ex-wife — who calls the EMTs who then call the cops after seeing Microdot, who’s had too many brownies himself, rush to put away the evidence.
This, my friends, is exactly what NOT to do. And don’t do what Microdot did after getting busted, either. Telling a judge that your motives were pure and righteous after you’ve been convicted by a jury does not go over too well.
Now, this is how I connected with Nephew Stew, my sister’s kid, Stew, like practically every teen, was all about rap. Odd Future this, Kendrick LeWhatever that. Jay-Z everything else. I was wracking my brain on how to win him over. I knew that if I tried to share my music with him, he’d just glaze over and lump me with all the other old farts that tell him about the good old days. Still, I knew there had to be a way for him to see the truth. Then it hit me:
Nephew Stew doesn’t give a shit about what his uncle Dear Ask A Deadhead thinks. I’m just some weirdo authority figure to him. But if he hears a guy on the radio, a guy like Grateful Dead Hour host David Gans, who wrote an excellent oral history of The Greatest Band in History, who speaks authoritatively about The One and his band of brothers, who can wax lyrical and musical about the Dead’s place in American music and name-check other Americana greats, who can explain the interplay, the cosmic collision of folk and psychedelic music — well, Nephew Stew might actually listen to that.
And that’s just what happened. I visited my sis in Boulder, Co., and on Saturday night, I took Stew out to grab some dinner and see The Shape of Water, which his mom and sister had loved. I called “DJ Rights!” when we got in the car and put on David’s show on KGNU. When we got to the restaurant, Stew, said, “Let’s go to the drive-thru,” cause he wanted to listen to the whole show. We even missed seeing the movie and decided to go bowling. (Actually, that turned out to be a good thing, because my pal Scooter in Marin County swears Shape of Water is really a boring, lame romance posing as a monster flick. What a drag!) Now Nephew Stew tunes in every week to the Dead Hour, and asks me to send him MP3s of my favorite Dicks Picks. He's becoming part of the Tribe.
So that's my wisdom: Tune in, be cool and hope your kids hear the American Beauty.
"Metaphysical Graffiti will make you think twice (and laugh thrice).” —Will Hermes, author, Love Goes to Buildings on Fire