Thursday, February 8, 2018

John Barlow RIP

"I can tell by the mark he left you were in his dream." -Cassidy
courtesy Relix
Aside from Owsley, I can't think of another key figure from the Grateful Dead's inner circle that could be remembered to posterity more for his work outside of the music biz than within (and let's face it, whenever someone talks about Owsley's central role in the counterculture spawned by the 60's, the Dead will most likely be mentioned).   John Perry Barlow, the internet thanks you for your service:

He did some great work that will continue to touch the lives of those who knew what he did and those who did not -- which, I suppose, is really all a person can hope for.

This isn't a subject I've touched on in this blog, but that Hells Angels post had me thinking about the Dead (mainly Garcia) vis a vis a sense of morality or responsibility.  Maybe I will go into it more someday.  But as I watched last year's mega-documentary on the band, John Barlow's comments weighed on me, particularly this one:
One of the things I don't think people have properly appreciated about the culture of the Grateful Dead is our utter comfort with paradox.  We were never an either/or kind of a culture, we were always both/and.  The deadheads had a very strong sense that there were good guys and bad guys, and they knew who they were.  With us, it wasn't so clear.  We had Hells Angels hanging around for ages, and those are people who don't even try to be good guys.  At one point I complained to Garcia about what I thought was the unnecessary presence of all the Angels thugging it up backstage, making everybody kind of nervous and making it even harder for women in a scene that was already misogynistic to the max.  And he said, "well, y'know, I don't think good means very much without evil."  Which is true, but that doesn't mean you always have to have a seat for evil at the table.
Too much to unpack for now -- not least how this same idea applies to (and informed?) Barlow's notions of how the internet functions -- but cheers to Barlow for laying this out plain and easy, whereas other folks in/close to the band find ways to dance around this basic idea, and for acknowledging the misogyny that went on in spades (more on that, also, maybe, someday).

Rest in peace, Mr. Barlow. You were such a badass, they had to kill you twice.

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