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OH EDDIE, POOR EDDIE, why are you so bitter (“O Captain! Our Captain!,” The District Line, 8/18)? Does it bother you that people can celebrate life in such a peaceful spirit? Or are you irked by the fact that some people have heroes whose sole intention is other than winning the Great American Rat Race?

Yes, I agree some Deadhead fans took the Jerry-worshiping a bit far, just as some writers take themselves a bit too seriously.

At heart, the Grateful Dead personified American ideals. Going to a show was about celebrating life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. Only in this country could a band like the Dead have thrived for 30 years. They are a truly American treasure.

While the images of the band and its fans may provide fodder for the Rush Limbaughs and the Eddie Deans in their weekly assaults on humanity, for many people the image of Jerry Garcia singing the Dead’s poetic ballads stirs up only the warmest sentiments of life. Our real-life version of Santa Claus mixed sheer joy with gentility in his voice. His guitar-playing exhibited an inventiveness that can only be dreamt of in modern music. Dead shows were one of the few places, if not the only, where individual expression meshed perfectly with community.

It troubles me that Dean had to use this mournful occasion to write what he thought was a clever, witty essay deconstructing what he saw as a 30-year idolatry. What he wrote was little more than a nasty diatribe aimed at kicking people when they are down and vented at a movement whose main quality was uplifting the human spirit. Pretty manly, Mr. Dean.

When you get done stomping on Garcia’s grave, you think you can help me wipe the spit off my face?

Woodley Park