Posts In Category The Beat
I just finished Peter Conners’ Growing up Dead: the Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead (Cambridge: Dacapo Press, 2009), it’s a good read that brings back a lot of memories. It is a coming of age story about a teenager in upstate New York who decides to “flip off” his white middle-class background, forego the Game of Life, and become a modern-day gypsy, traveling from campground to campground, attending the shows of the Grateful Dead. His narrative describes traveling from show to show, sleeping in a green VW microbus, smoking copious amounts of marijuana, dropping LSD, living without the luxury of a shower, and living hand to mouth for months on end. The text is not a hedonistic romp through America; it is a young person’s search for meaning that follows in the tradition of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, Neal Cassady, Ken Kesey, and other relentless wanderers. In effect, the book tells us that the “open road” is a space of experience in which one discovers that you can’t flee from your own mind, and the most difficult thing a person can do is come to terms with himself.