The Grateful Dead
Frenesi took her hand away from Flash's and they all
got back to business, the past, a skip tracer with an
obsessional gleam in its eye, and still a step or two
behind, appeased for only a little while. Sure, she knew
folks who had no problem with the past. A lot of it they
just didn't remember. Many told her, one way and
another, that it was enough for them to get by in real
time without diverting precious energy to what, face it,
was fifteen or twenty years dead and gone. But for
Frenesi the past was on her case forever, the zombie at
her back, the enemy no one wanted to see, a mouth
wide and dark as the grave.
—Thomas Pynchon, Vineland
Q: How do you know when Deadheads have been
staying with you?
A: They're still there.
We're American. What we do is as American as lynch
mobs. America has always been a complex place.
THE GRATEFUL DEAD avoided social pronouncements like bad acid, but they helped create the contemporary concept of lifestyle. Even in the 1990s, when the band's audience was mostly middle-aged, Deadheads felt they stepped out of prefab social roles and into an alternate universe of possibility.
For those off the bus, the Dead's culture was childishly dangerous. So were taking drugs and dropping out to sleep on the street and scamming money, food, and tickets to the band's infamously uneven shows, as young Deadheads did.