Groupers

by thoughtsonthedead

Before the internet, no one knew what the fuck was happening. You could find out, but only at certain times of day; and not about the stuff you wanted to know, either. Someone would tell you if the President got shot, but other than that you were on your own.

This is to say that there were many smaller groups within the world of the parking lot besides the Wharf Rats and Tapers and Spinners: cliques that–accidentally or by design–garnered less attention than the larger and more organized associations.

I’ve mentioned the Deafheads, but have you heard of Eyes of the World? It was a small band of blind friends who toured briefly in the 90’s until one of them decided to trip with his seeing-eye dog and the cops weren’t called, but just barely. The group disbanded and never spoke again of what happened in the van, parking lot, Motel 8 lobby, parking lot, van, and veterinary hospital that day.

During Brent’s tenure in the band, there was a small set of Furries that met backstage semi-regularly to get their weirdo-fuck on. Everyone pretended to not recognize Brent’s voice, but he was an energetic and vocal yiffer and would accompany his orgasms with his trademark bluesy keen. Fun fact: one of the Furries was respected newsman Charlie Gibson.

There was an attempt to form a group for vegan Deadheads, which you might think would be easy, but it turns out that half the fun of being vegan is bothering people about it, so the vegans didn’t want to hang out with each other. Also: if you put vegans in captivity, they will begin to out-vegan each other. This invariably leads to naked people drinking rain water and trying not to step on bugs. Do not put vegans in captivity.

The Casey Joneses were a harmless and fun bunch of guys, and it was most assuredly all male: these were Enthusiasts who also liked model trains. It’s an obsession as worthy and pointless as any other and they always had excellent beer; people liked them.

One show brought the Casey Jones close to the home of one of their members, and they raided his basement for track and cars and set up a train out in the lot. Deadheads smiled as they passed, and some stayed to watch for a while. A man named Soup stayed to watch, and Soup had taken far too much acid, but men named Soup do things like that, and Soup wandered out onto the tracks; Soup was so high that when the toy train hit him, he thought he had been killed.

“I’M DEAD!”

“You’re not. Is your ankle okay?”

“I’M DEAD!”

“You’re really not.”

“HOW DO YOU KNOW, MAN?”

“You’re shouting.”

“MY NAME IS SOUP AND I’M DEAD!”

“Is that a nickname or–”

‘THAT’S NOT THE POINT HERE, MAN.”

Here’s a piece of Dead History that no oral history has the courage to tell you: right beside the Taper’s Section for two years in the 90’s sat the Sketch Artist’s Section. Just as intent as the Tapers on capturing the night, the Sketch Artists would come from their day jobs in courtrooms and police stations all across America to record–usually in chalks–the legacy of the Dead. After a while, though, they realized that all the pictures were pretty much all the same and stopped with the drawing.

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