Composed directly online, Aug 10, 1995

Gratitude for the Dead

I'm not a deadhead.

Like I'm not a peacenik or an environmentalist or feminist or any of the other important movements that have shaped my life as a human on this planet, female, American, 42 years old, and caring that we will survive.

I'm an individual, and I don't need to call myself a deadhead. Nope. Besides, its been over a year since I went to a show, and I don't even trade tapes and I probably only listen to the GD Hour on the radio cuz I know Gans. And cuz the not-deadhead I live with likes to listen to the band, too...

OK, I'm hurting deeply because I've been in denial about how important the magic of the Dead has been in my life.

Losing Jerry puts a lot in perspective. And I don't want to lose my deadhead community I denied I was part of. I love you... uh, us.

The Dead have a lot to do with why I fell in love with cyberspace, this deeply human realm of the imagination. Deadheads are the perfect virtual community.

I posted this in the WELL Virtual Communities Conference once in response to a question by Steve Silberman:

vc.213.57: (gail)  Mon 28 Nov 94 

 When I discovered the set-list rotiserie league topic I almost died.  What
 a great mixing of metaphors and use of this media!   I've told several
 baseball fans who are not deadheads per se, and they've loved the idea,

 That's  in tours.183: Rotisserie DeadShow - Fun for the speculators!

 Most bands do a canned thing through a whole tour, you couldn't do a
 rotisserie set list even if you *had* a virtual fan clubhouse.

vc.213.72: (gail)  Tue 29 Nov 94 

 I notice that the current Netguide features the GD areas on AOL in glowing
 terms, with only a hint of wry.

 My theory -- eschewing the David Gans/WELL connection theory for now -- 
 is that deadheads are a true virtual community that was simply looking for 
 a medium, a petri dish in which to grow.  And a couple of savvy telecom 
 pioneers howed the soil and passed out fliers at Dead Shows and got a 
 little scene cooking here.  The WELL was a good match because of its early 
 cultural history, coming from the Whole Earth tradition of access and 
 Deadheads and some-time deadheads are perfect in that they -- we -- have
 already got common vocabulary, texts to discuss, events to follow, plans to
 make...  and built-in gatherings at shows.  There is a shared, dispersed
 culture.  And it can be transmitted sans tie-dye, in the realm of ideas.
 So here we settle in, all the more gorgeous for being only the lyrics, and
 having to each fill in the music of our encounters in our heads.

 Then there's the contact high aspect.  We all know that ascii can be
 transformative, that words can whack us good on the head like a koan or a
 chorus repeated.  But so much the better to be in the company of others
 who've known transformations and transitions, who have a vocabulary of
 tripping, and who know how to talk one another down from anxiety or up to

The soundtracks of our lives have had a mad, deft and wildly intelligent lead guitar, whether taking us to the twilight zone or into a sunshine daydream. Jerry led us home so many times, so many ways he could never know. His art was part of what kept us in the same movie, or part of the same organism, many times. Peace to you, Jerry. Peace to everyone who aches knowing you're gone.

The eyes of the world are full of tears tonight.

-Gail Williams

8/10/95 - Information about Jerry's passing | Tributes | About The WELL's Grateful Dead Conferences