I've been watching "Long Strange Trip" on Amazon for the past few nights (link). It is weirdly fascinating and horrifying in turns. Some of the music is great, some of it god awful. The long, improvisational riffs do have a groovy flow to them, but if you are not either fucked up on acid or trying to catalog the variations in their music, they can become tedious. Still, they had a sound, and when they were good, they were pretty good. Remember, they formed the year after the Beatles' first album was released in the U.S. There you have a study in contrasts.
I saw the Dead in the '70s. It was a Thursday night, and they were playing in an arena an hour away. I drove over alone on a weeknight and had to work the next day. Of course, the Dead didn't start early. It was a long night.
I get caught up watching hippie shit like this, remembering the freedom vibe that surrounded the times, but then the critical part of my brain kicks in and all I see are a few shrewd people preying on the herd mentality of the naive mass. Pull back the curtain and you have a bunch of addled drug addicts who got to the head of a cult. Deadheads illustrate the human predilection to worship and to follow something. The band shows the ravaging effects of privilege. It is all what H.S. Thompson depicted as The American Dream.
The doc whitewashes all the dirty, gritty details of life on the road. I mean, so far, at least (I have one episode to go) there is no mention of sexual activity, the culling of the herd, the pleasure of being Dead. We are just presented with the beatification of daily acid tests.
And still I watch. I'm a sucker for alt.culture.
The big news here, though, is the corruption of state politics running through Grit City and the county in which it sits. Joel Greenberg, a very minor public official, has pleaded guilty to some hideous crimes against the United States as well as trafficking a seventeen year old child. Now, he is turning what criminals call rat bastard, and the press is licking its chops about Rep. Gaetz. But we who know the county are all placing bets on which of our local guys and gals will be caught up in this thing. Grit City is nothing but dirty republican politics, and most people around here have some connection to it one way or another through business or personal ties. Dogs are slobbering alright. And like everyone else, I know people who might get burned. Oooo. . . it is like a Faulkner novel, really. It is dirty southern politics, underaged sex. . . all we need is for someone to go missing or to turn up at the bottom of a well. There are plenty of swamps around Grit City. It could happen.
I've been distracted while writing this and have lost my focus. Ah, well. There is always tomorrow. By then, I will have finished the Grateful Dead doc and the Greenberg story will have enlarged, as they say. But now I have to prepare for the day in which I am going to Grit City for lunch with an old colleague. There will be much about which to gossip.
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