DEAR ASK A DEADHEAD - #1 

 

Dear Ask a Deadhead,

My boyfriend says tie-dye makes me look fat. But then he also likes Neil more

than Jerry. Is tie-dye figure-flattering or not? And should I dump this guy? —Daisy, Madison, Wis

 

Whoa, whoa, whoa! I like Neil, but your BF needs to get his hearing checked. Seriously, Neil has written some good stuff, especially that song about a horse with no name. But there’s no competition there. Heart of Gold vs. Friend of the Devil? Cinnamon Girl vs. Cold Rain and Snow? It’s not even close. But listen, nobody has perfect musical taste — except for one Man, and he left the planet on August 9, 1995 — so I’m not gonna totally rip your boyfriend for the Neil thing.

 

But tie-dye? That’s the magical fabric! It’s like the Dead’s equivalent of Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, and that cloth was so badass, it like did miracles and shit! But you’ve been to shows, right? You’ve seen arenas full of beautiful women  doing snake-arm hippie dancing while sheathed in explosions of blurred out, blissed-out mandala patterns jetted over the astral plane from Lhasa and imprinted on 100% cotton! Tie-dye is a visual aphrodisiac, man. Everybody knows that! I’ll bet you look smokin’!

 

Dump him. Go out with his best friend.

***

 

Dear Ask a Deadhead,

Why did the Dead only play the song “Blues for Allah” live five times after they recorded the album of the same name? — Stevie, Austin, Tx

 

Stevie, that is a most awesome wonder you pose. Totally! I get this question every month. What IS THE DEAL WITH BFA? And I have been searching high and for the answer. Like, relentlessly. Sometimes I feel like those reporters Bob Woodward and Ingmar Bergman. You know, less like an advice columnist and more like a real newshound. But now all my hard journalistical work has paid off, dudes!

 

Here’s what I found out.

 

First, Jerry, in addition to being the greatest being to ever touch a fretboard — like, ten or even twenty times better than Trey or Warren — was a creature of immensely superior foresight. For instance, he was seriously concerned about the ocean and coral and the environment waaay back in the 60s.

 

Plus, tie-dye.

 

Plus, lysergic acid diethylamide.

 

The man had foresight. Am I right?

 

I’m sure you are like, dude, what does this have to do with “Blues for Allah?”

 

Well, chill out. My point is that it turns out, Jerry also totally foresaw some of this whole Bin Laden terrorism thing that’s been going on.

 

Seriously.

 

When I was quietly making covert inquiries into the mystery of “Blues,” I heard a rumor about a taper from Spokane who knew another taper from Cleveland who knew the whole story.

It took me an epic series of emails and phone calls to track down this dude in Shaker Heights, Ohio, who I’ll call Shimmy because that’s his name.

 

Shimmy met a roadie who was on the entire ’79 tour and asked Jerry this exact question. He was like, “Dude, why don’t you ever play BFA, man?”

 

And Jerry said that one night, about three weeks after the album came out, he was relaxing and he got the munchies and cooked up an omelet with primo peyote buttons.

 

Like, an hour or three later — Jerry wasn’t sure — a huge, hairy dude in white pajamas with a giant cutlass broke into his crib! The guy had his turban in a twist and was ranting about fatwas, which sounds a bit like Mexican food but is really an Arabic word for, like, a religious finding that can sometimes be a death sentence. The dude also said that some old school Allah fans did not dig the tribute, and “would fucking waste everyone if they ever played it live.”

 

Shimmy the taper swore to me on an SACD of Winterland, June 9, ’77 that this was totally solid information, from Jerry’s lips to the roadie’s ears to Shimmy’s ears about 15 years later. So that sounds pretty rock solid to me.

 

I know this story is sort of ironic since Bobby Hunter’s BFA lyrics say spilling blood will not grow a thing. But it sounds exactly right, too: by not playing “Blues for Allah,” Jerry was silently ensuring the safety of the whole scene, which is just so typical of the Master.

 

Anyway, that’s the real story. If you want to nominate me for a Pulitzer Prize, go ahead.

Tie-Dye Dis & Blues for Allah

February 11, 2016 

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Bernie, Refugees & Potluck  February 4, 2016

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Dear Ask a Deadhead,

I don’t want to sound uptight, but I’m an old school member of the Church of Jerry and my problem is this: I really love Bernie Saunders and all his platforms and ideas. But he is from Vermont, if you know what I mean. — Melissa, Oak Park, IL

 

Readers,  every day I get a number of questions just like this from our brothers and sisters. Let me read between the lines for you. What Melissa is saying is that she’s a traveler who is not a fan of Phish, which is a band from Vermont, and that she, like a lot of older Deadheads, dislikes Phish so much, she’s having a hard time voting for Bernie. Melissa is not alone. Trust me.

But let me answer your question, Melissa,  with another question: Can we, as a nation, condemn an entire state because it provided the launching pad for a quartet of short, Dead-influenced jammers with stupid song titles like “Meatstick,” “Icculus” and “Guyute”  and a pretty kicking light show? Are we really that petty?

As tempting as it is to blame all of Vermont for this sonically derivative band with awesome chops and not great songs, I totally know in my heart that Jerry would never do that. And you totally know it, too. They’re just playin’ in the band. So go ahead and Bern it up. And lose the hate while you are at it.

 

***

Dear Ask a Deadhead,

There’s a refugee crisis going on. I feel like I should be doing something to help. Any ideas on how to address this calamity? — Mike, Syosset, N.Y.

 

It is so awful what is going on in those refugee places, man. I totally hear you. But just yesterday I had a vision. Not like a glorious blue-dot or psilocybin mandala-in-your-mind vision, but more like a regular old-fashioned “plan” or “idea.” Those refugees have endless hours with nothing to do and nothing to sit on, right?  Dude, that’s like the PERFECT training conditions for hackin’ the sack! They could become total hacky sack monsters — and it’s one of the best ways to pass the time if you don’t have any anything, you know?. You should contact the Wham-O Corporation and get them to airlift some footbags over there pronto!

 

***

Dear Ask a Deadhead,

Settle an argument: My girlfriend says bringing pot brownies to a potluck is “really phony grad-school meta bullshit.” I say, “Whoa, what’s that about?” Who is right? — Weedless in Seattle

 

I totally sense trouble ahead and trouble behind. But you and your brownies would be most welcome at my potluck ANY time. And by that I mean, even when I’m not having a potluck. Most people I know — all of them, actually — would feel the same.