Might As Well

by Dean Budnick

Bill Graham once said, “They’re not the best at what they do, they’re the only ones who do what they do.” Graham was referring to the Grateful Dead, but this also applies to the legion of fans who traveled from show to show across America with the band. Might As Well captures the rich tapestry of the Grateful Dead scene in the late eighties by presenting an engaging account of one evening both inside and outside of a concert at New Jersey’s Meadowlands. Events unfold through the eyes of seven characters, including three-year-old Stella attending with her Deadhead mother, prep school hippie Steven on spring break with his crew, Taper Ted on hand to record the music alongside his skeptical brother, and trusty, crusty vendor Bagel Bob approaching his second decade on tour. Inspired in part by a true-crime incident involving a still-unsolved fatality, Might As Well explores the challenges, complications, and charms of this environment with insight, empathy, and humor. 

Like the Dead scene itself, there is more than meets the ear, as the story also encompasses miracles and near misses, the killer and the kind, doses and duds, female Muppets, the Fairy Wing Guild, the stall sisterhood, the merits of Charles Bukowski and Marcel Proust, the connections between Full House and ALF, seat surfing, scurvy, setlist games, Schoolhouse Rock, Shakedown Street, tape trees, the Philsbury Doughboy, Three Bean Monty, Crock-Pots, counties, custies, dog liberation, DATs, Griffin Dunne films, and fire dancing. After all, the circus is in town.

Rare Bird Books
Paperback, 2016: 978-1-942600-76-3
US $17.95 | Fiction
Also available in eBook formats

Dean Budnick’s Might as Well may be a novel, but this kaleidoscopic tale—which follows a handful of fictional yet archetypal Deadheads at one show—delightfully captures the sights, sounds, smells, highs, lows, tape trading, march bargains, and setlist surprises that were part of every Dead experience. A truly unique addition to the ongoing Dead canon.
David Browne, author of So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead

Dean Budnick is the editor-in-chief of Relix magazine and the coauthor of John Popper’s autobiography Suck and Blow: And other Stories I’m Not Supposed to Tell. Budnick is the founder of jambands.com, cocreator of the Jammy Awards, and director of the documentary Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Rock Club, which earned film festival laurels, opened nationally via First Run Features, and then aired on the Sundance Channel. His previous books include Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got ScalpedJambands, and The Phishing Manual. He has written for The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard and for many years cohosted Jam Nation, a radio show that aired weekly on SiriusXM. Budnick, who holds a PhD from Harvard’s History of American Civilization program and a JD from Columbia Law School, also teaches in the history department at the University of Rhode Island.

 

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