Where is the "head shop"?

Jonathon Green slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK
Mon Jun 18 08:26:49 UTC 2001

Grateful Deadheads. All one might ever need to know (and possibly rather
more) is enshrined in 'Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads' by David
Shenk and Steve Silberman (Main Street / Doubleday 1994). Herewith the
relevant parts of their entry for the term:

DEADHEAD Someone who loves - and draws meaning from - the music of the
Grateful Dead and the experience of Dead shows, and builds community with
others who feel the
same way.

The earliest meanings of the word "deadhead" predate the Grateful Dead by
centuries, but have intriguing resonances. The original Latin term, caput
mortuum, was used by alchemists
to describe the residue "remaining after the distillation or sublimation of
any substance, 'good for nothing but to be flung away, all vertue being
extracted.'" By the mid-1850s, a "dead-head" had become "one who travels
free, hence eats free, or, especially, goes free to a place of
entertainment." An 1883 review of Donizetti's opera Lucia di Lammermoor
panned it by saying it was so "stale," even "the most confirmed deadhead"
try to scam in to the Opera House. "Deadheadism" was the practice of letting
people into a show for free, and in 1860, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that
one of his characters "had
been 'dead-headed' into the world some fifly years ago, and had sat with his
hands in his pockets staring at the show ever since. [...]  The Dead-related
meaning of "deadhead" is beginning to infiltrate standard dictionaries. "A
follower of the Grateful Dead rock group" is meaning number 3 in the
National Textbook Company's 1993 edition of the Dictionary of American Slang
and Colloquial Expressions, with these examples of usage: "What do these
deadheads see in that group?" arid "My son is a deadhead and travels all
over listening to these guys."

Jonathon Green

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