Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Author: Thoughts On The Dead (page 2 of 685)

Steal Your Base


“Yes, sir.”

“Backman flies out to left.”

“Oh, no, sir.”

“Hernandez flies out to center.”

“Please don’t tell your Game 6 story, sir.”

“I had 30,000 on the Mets, and I was smoking a lot of crack. This was when I was a cop.”

“No, sir. This is the plot to Bad Lieutenant, sort of.”

“I was going to murder Mookie.”

“None of this happened, sir.”

“Make it look like an accident. Maybe a tiger would eat him, I don’t know. Luckily, he won the game for me.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Why are you here?”

“The poster, sir.”


“Yes, sir.”

“Let’s not do a poster, Jenkins. Rude to the blind. Let’s do a smell for this show.”

“A what, sir?”

“A signature smell. One-time only. That’s how we’ll advertise the show.”

“Sir, posters aren’t for advertising any more. We just sell them for $60 a pop.”

“Then we’ll make it a very fancy smell. Money mixed with not being afraid of the cops.”

“Maybe for next year, sir. I think we should stick with the sense of sight for this one.”

“Sight. Pish-tosh. Overrated sense.”

“Be that as it may, sir.”

“Why don’t we go somewhere cold and cut the cables on a ski lift, Jenkins?”

“After the poster, sir.”



“I imagine it would sound like this: TWANG! AAAAAAaaaaaah! PLOOMPF!”

“Yes, sir.”

“The ‘PLOOMPF’ was them hitting the snow, Jenkins.”

“I figured that out from context clues, sir.”

“Don’t you get all high and mighty with me, Jenkins. Figuring things out like a smarty-pants.”

“No, sir.”

“In fact: give me your pants.”

“Poster, sir.”


“Yes, sir.”

“Oh, just put some bullshit on a piece of paper.”

“Same as always,. Yes, sir.”

“Wait, Jenkins. Let’s do something different.”

“I told you that we can’t do a poster made out of smells, sir.”

“No, not that. Let’s have the poster be…I don’t know the word for it.”

“Vaguely attractive?”

“That’s it.”

“So, not the same as always.”

“And put the bears in it.”

“Mostly the same as always. Yes, sir.”

“Not kidding about that ski lift plan.”

“I didn’t think you were, sir.”

Oh, Babe, It Ain’t No Lie

Hey, Nephew. Whatcha doing?

“Fuming. Fuming, bro”

What happened? You don’t like your onesie? That’s a custom Starhawk job.

“This is not about the onesie. Don’t make it about the onesie.”

What’s it about?



“No, Orbach. Of course Garcia.”


“You’re shitting me.”

You are three days old, and I’m going to need you to stop cursing.

“No Garcia? I got born in a non-Garcia timeline?”

It’s been 20 years.

“Dude, not cool.”

Honestly, buddy? The lack of Garcia is, like, the least worst thing about 2017.

“Wow. Huh. No Garcia? Tough break.”

It is.

“At least we still have Bowie.”


I don’t know what to tell you, Nephew.

“What were my parents thinking?”

That they love each other and wanted to have a child?



“Just one more question.”


“Who’s the president?”

Barack Obama.

“Oh, thank God.”

Doesn’t Anyone Here Know How To Play This Jam?

I’m not posting any pirated streams, but I sure hope someone does in the Comment Section.

A Never-Before Seen Publicity Photo Of The Grateful Dead In 1977

That look on Bobby’s face? That’s the look you get when Bono starts talking to you.


That’s Dick Durbin from Illinois on the left, and Patrick Leahy is next to Mickey, but does anyone know who the tall lady and the round man are?


“Bob. Can I call ya Bob?”

“Oh, yeah, sure. Otherwise, you know, I won’t know I’m part of the conversation.”

“Bob, what d’ya know about African debt?”

“Just what I hear on the radio.”

“Tremendous problem in th’ Third World.”

“Y’know, when I have money troubles, I do a tour and get a new business manager. Has, uh, Africa considered that?”

“I don’t believe so.”

“Always worked for me.”

“Bob, there’s one more wee matter.”


“Can you get John Mayer to stop trying to join U2?”


“Tall kid, wears clothes.”

“Oh, Josh. He doing that to you, too?”

“No, U2.”

“We’re both correct here.”

“Bob, it’s got to stop. The Edge is gonna punch him.”

“You really call him that?”

“The Edge? Of course.”


“Okee-doke. I’m gonna talk to anyone else.”


Durbin’s shitfaced.


Seriously, look at him. Schnockered. Trying to stand perfectly still, keep a neutral expression on his face: Durbin’s laced.


Is Bono just allowed to come and go from secure buildings at will? Can he wander into the Situation Room? Can he play basketball in the Supreme Court’s court? (The Supreme Court has a basketball court in it. The building, I mean. Not the nine people who we refer to collectively as the Supreme Court. You could not fit even part of a basketball court in Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is tiny.)

I’ll Meet You At The Diamond Jubilee

Hunter has the exact same face as Warren Zevon. Never noticed before.


Rockin’ Ricky over there is John Cipollina, who was in Quicksilver Messenger Service and jammed with the Dead on many occasions, but even cooler is the fact that his mom gave Pigpen organ lessons.

This is ’68, right after the Least Effective Firing In History. (Second on the list is George Steinbrenner firing Billy Martin: yes, Billy always came back, but at least he left the stadium for a couple months or so. Bobby and Pig didn’t even miss a gig after they were fired, so the Dead–as always–win a contest that they didn’t know they were participating in.) Bobby buckled down and practiced, but Pig’s problem was more foundational: he had no clue how the band’s new Hammond B3 worked. The sucker’s got a dashboard like the space shuttle, and foot pedals and levers, and switches and sliders and two keyboards. Pig knew how to play the piano.

Luckily, John’s mom Evelyn was a concert pianist and an accomplished organist, and so she–semi-secretly, now: the Pig’s got his pride–taught him the intricacies of his new instrument. They probably sat there next to each other on the bench, and maybe Evelyn would whack Pig’s knuckles when he got something wrong, and give him a gold-star sticker when he did a good job.

I bet Pig called her “ma’am.”


A rare photo in which Mrs. Donna Jean not only doesn’t have the best hair, but also does not feature Bobby.


No, wait: Hunter looks like Elton John.


Lucky Strikes are foul, but the packs–especially the soft packs–are art.


Takes balls to start with an invocation to the gods. Homer did it, Virgil did it, Dante did it, and so did Hunter. All of them got away with it.

To Leahy Me Down

“Psst. Weir.”

“Yeah, Mick?”

“Who’s this?”

“Senator from Vermont.”


“No, no, no.”

“Oh, good. That guy shows up and white people start arguing.

“This is the one who likes to be in movies.”

“He’s got the looks.”

“Handsome devil, yeah.”

“Hey, Weir.”

“Yeah, Mick?”

“I think we made the right decision not tucking our shirts in.”

“We’re rockers, Mick.”

“Totally. This place have a Hostility Suite?”

“Yeah, but they call it the Cloakroom.”



“Does that mean–”

“It’s not a room full of cloaks you can yoink.”

“–that it’s…okay, just checking.”

“Try not to steal anything while we’re here, Mick.”

“I promise nothing.”

An Elephant And Her Dog

Congo was an elephant, and Pax was a good dog. Congo had had many dogs over her long and stifled life, but Pax was one of her favorites: he would clamber up her offered leg to the very top of her head, and then scratch his claws up and down the thick skin of her skull; it felt so good that Congo would let out a trumpet BAH-RAAAAAPPP in happiness, and then she would curl her trunk up over her head and poke it around until she felt Pax. The dog would wriggle atop her head as she tickled him.

Sometimes she remembered her mother. In the summers, she remembered her mother. Where she knew her mother, it was hot. The place she lived in now was cooler than that, except in the summer, so in the summer she thought about her mother. Her aunts, too, and also the men with their guns. The next bit is a blur, and then she was in Harper Zoo and named Congo, which was simply wrong. There are elephants in the Congo basin, but they are forest elephants that rarely reach eight feet, and Congo was a bush elephant a dozen feet to the shoulder. Bush elephants don’t live anywhere near the Congo, but that was where Harper T. Harper, who paid for her, made his money and so that’s what she was called. Africa is Africa, Harper liked to say.

Zoo needs an elephant like a bookstore needs a cat, and so Harper Zoo got an elephant. Rhino was nice, and you should have some hippos. Alligators or crocodiles–didn’t matter which–and a big cat or two, but a zoo needs an elephant.

The keepers called it an enclosure, but it was a cage. By ratio, it was the size of a one-bedroom apartment, and lots of people live in those, but they were allowed to leave if they wanted. Congo could have killed any one of them in seconds, easily, but she didn’t. She hated them in principle, but they were individually kind. She thought her keepers were a credit to their species. The ground in her enclosure was concrete at first, and no animal is evolved to walk on concrete. Fucked up her feet, hips. In the 60’s, she was moved to her present home, and there is grass and dirt. The damage is done, and she walks gingerly and everything hurts when it rains.

She got her first dog, too. The 60’s were wild, man: men were burning their draft cards, and women were burning their bras, and elephants were getting dogs. The zookeepers were going through the same changes as the rest of the country–the white, middle-class, educated part of it–was going through, and they would stay in the zoo overnight eating acid and trying to communicate with anteaters.

“I’m talking to him, man.”

“What does he say?”

“He says, ‘Feed me some fucking ants.'”

“Anything else?”

“No. He’s obsessed.”

And the animals’ rights were for the first time discussed at Harper Zoo. The consensus arrived at was that, after years of close observation, 90% of animals are compete morons who don’t mind captivity as long as they’re being fed and taken care of. Giant tortoise? Giant tortoise had no idea it was even in a zoo. Yak? Yak stands there and chews. But the other ten percent, well, that was a problem if you’re even the slightest bit empathetic.

Couldn’t send Congo home. She didn’t even know how to be an elephant anymore, she didn’t speak elephant anymore other than grunts and groans and rumbles. Besides, she was on the tee-shirts.

They knew how smart she was, though. Even without the acid. Something in the eyes, those poky black eyes hidden in folds of gray skin, and the way she held a grudge. Pissed her off? She’d BAP her trunk against your shoulder like a bully’s finger for a few weeks until you brought her a present. Congo liked cantaloupe. Every animal in the zoo had a personality, and some didn’t like people and some did, but being angry with a specific person for a quantifiable reason is a sign of intelligence.

So the zookeepers relocated the hyenas that were next door to her and knocked down the wall, gave her more space. Grass instead of concrete. Congo got a little pond.

And a dog. A blue-tinged mutt called Shep that wasn’t even three months old. Floppy little guy that fell over as much as he ran, with pointed ears and a thin tail. One of the keepers had read an article in Life magazine about an elephant that befriended a dog, and so she went to the pound and got a mutt and brought it to the zoo. She was not sure Congo would not stamp the animal into a paste, but the elephant gently poked and examined the puppy with her trunk. The zookeeper left Shep with Congo, and by the next morning they were best friends for life.

Elephants live longer than dogs. When Shep died a decade later, Congo blasted a roar NAWHOOOOO into the sky and would not eat for three days, which is a very long time for an elephant. She would not allow her keepers in her enclosure until one of them arrived with Bailey, who was a reddish mutt with a curly coat and long muzzle. Congo felt guilty about having a new dog. Scientists try to avoid anthropomorphizing animals, and they would say that elephants are capable of guilt like humans understand it, but scientists gave us the atom bomb. They get things wrong all the time. Congo felt guilty about having a new dog, but Bailey was a feisty little guy and he bounced around and wanted to play, and Congo liked having a dog.

Bailey went the way of Shep, eventually, and Congo mourned again. She would not let the keepers–an entirely new generation of them since she had been given her first dog–near the body for hours. Congo stood over the dog and stroked his fur again and again. There was a eulogy, too, but subsonic, and so the keepers did not bow their heads.

Now she had Pax, and Pax was a good dog. Maybe the smartest one, Congo thought. Elephants judge intelligence in animals the same way humans do: how quickly does it do what I want it to do? By those standards, Pax was brilliant. When her enclosure was expanded back in the 60’s, the job was half-assed. The gate that kept her in was grated like an old-timey jail cell. The lever that opened and closed it was ten feet towards the human side of the equation. Too far for a trunk to reach.

But dogs and elephants have one weird thing in common: they can both understand pointing.

Congo would push the dog through the bars of the gate, trunk on the butt, and once they were out she would point THERE THERE THERE at the lever. Some got it quicker than others. Pax caught on right away, and he walked himself right under the lever and looked back at Congo. She made an exaggerated DOWN motion with her trunk, and then pointed at the lever, and Pax got it on the first try: he leapt up and caught the switch in his teeth and his weight brought it down and then CHACK the gate opened and Congo was free.

Every night, except for every 18th night when it was raining, Congo and Pax would make the rounds of Harper Zoo. The pathways were blacktop and paving stone, and they hurt her feet and hips, but she did not care and she did not let her body language reveal the fact. Elephants can lie, too.

Passing the lions, two females, and she went BRAPH at them; they pretended not to notice. Her footsteps had woken the peacock, Ethelred the Unsteady, and now he limped next to her massive leg like a courtier. Pax enjoyed barking at the wolves. They’d growl, every single night, and he’d hold his ground while Congo stood over him. There were prairie dogs in an octohedral enclosure, open at the top, and she would reach her trunk and the rodents crowded around and chirped, and everyone smelled each other. Congo did not acknowledge the condors. Long story.

You can buy popcorn right inside the front gate of Harper Zoo, from a teenager in a red-and-white striped shirt and a straw hat. A genuine authentic faux-vintage popcorn cart, with the kettle bursting and erupting inside glass, and a vast reservoir for the birthed kernels below. A new teenager mans the cart every few months or so, and they are given instructions: before you leave for the day, make one last batch. Leave it there. Congo loved popcorn. She grabbed big trunkfuls and shoved it salty into her mouth, and then she searched the corners for pieces she had missed.

Congo was right by the front gate. It would have come down had she leaned on it.

She never did, but she did always close the door to the popcorn enclosure in the cart. Then she continued on her rounds; she had tapirs to see. Pax darted in and out of her lumbering and tender feet. When she was done, she would go back into her enclosure. Pax would bang the lever back up with his snout, locking her back in, and then he would wriggle through the gate and Congo would stroke him with her trunk and then they would sleep soundly knowing everything in their universe was as it should be in Harper Zoo, which is in Little Aleppo, which is a neighborhood in America.

A Partial Transcript Of Donald Trump’s Remarks From Cedar Rapids, IA – 6/21/17

“Yes, great, we’re great. Look at us all here, wonderful, the best. Love being in Iowa. My favorite state, great state. I won Iowa. Great, great state. Best wrestlers in the world. I did some wrestling. Took down Vince McMahon. Gave him the suplex, duplex, shmuplex, whatever. Champion of wrestling.”


“See? See? This is the violence of the left and the Deep State. They’re very violent people, so it’s okay to hit them. Attack the violent people. Great, really great. All of those so-called protestors, who are being paid by James Comey, were probably about to go shoot a Congressman. Stan Scalia, great guy, great. Went by the hospital to see him. Sat in on one of the surgeries. Many of the nurses told me that he was only alive because of my visit.

“Otto Whatever isn’t doing as well. Dead. Very nasty business. He was so beuatiful, a beautiful young man with blond hair, and Kim over there killed him. Bad guy, that Kim guy over there. China won’t deal with him, so I will. We’re gonna deal with Kim and Korea and we’re gonna have the most phenomenal deal. No more dead kids. Why did Obama ask Kim to kill Otto Whatever? Maybe Robert Mueller should look into that.

“Democrats can’t win fair, so they cheat. Since my great, wonderful election victory, there have been 25 or 40 special elections, and we’ve won them all. Most of that was me, but the candidates are great, too. Karen Handel, great. Not a looker, but a smart cookie. We’d be doing even better if we started running babes.

“When I came down that escalator in Trump Tower, do you remember that? When we started this wonderful journey before the lying, failing media began to attack me so viciously? It was the best, very famous, me and Melania, who is regarded as one of the world’s greatest beauties and almost gotten all the black-person smell out of the White House. Very famous escalator ride. Longest escalator in the word, whole world. First time Mike Pence saw it, he got scared. Cried, started praying, whole deal. He’s from some hick state, they don’t have escalators.

“They said Paris was binding, but I unbinded us. Now we’re free, and we’re going to open up so many coal mines. What made America great was her coal mines, and that’s what we’re gonna bring back. Maybe I’ll send Nancy Pelosi to work in one. President is allowed to do that, absolutely.

“I got the best team. Wilbur Ross. You’re on Wall Street, you don’t even need his last name. Just Wilbur. Huge money guy, and he’s gonna work for you. Gary Cohn. That’s a real Jewish name, best name for money. He took a pay cut of $800 million to work for you. Out of patriotism! The Democrats are obstructing me and wiretpping the Oval Office, but I’m getting you the best guys. Neil Gorsuch. He said to me, ‘Mr. President, I’m gonna use the Supreme Court to build America’s military.’ Isn’t that great?

“Crooked Hillary wants to take away your children and your healthcare and your motorcycles. All they got is witch hunts. Fake witch hunts. I’m gonna let ICE poke illegal aliens’ eyes out. These brave, beautiful men who deport so many criminals are so wonderful. Why don’t we build the wall out of the illegal aliens? As a warning? MS-13 is coming here, and they are worse than ISIS. Not as bad as Hillary Clinton, but very bad.

“You all know Charles Schumer? I call him Charles Jew-mer. Not in front of Jared, but I do. Jew-mer. You like that? Great.

“Jobs are booming. Jobs are doing phenomenally, so many jobs, and American jobs for Americans. Even blacks, that’s how many jobs there are. We are rebuilding America that Barack Hussein set on fire. The most racist president in our country’s history, many historians I follow on Twitter say that. Hated whites, even though he was half-white. I guess that’s the half that went to college. Right? You like that? I love you, Iowa.

“You are the special people. So special. We’re straightening up the mess left by years of weakness. Healthcare is fixed. Afghanistan is over, done, we won. Everyone has a job mining coal and there’s no Russia. No Russia.

“Okay, I gotta go.”

High Level Meeting

Frankenflesh, baby. That little sliver o’ calf? Sexiest part of an aging white man. It’s dad-cleavage.


Mickey is drunk, thinks he’s at the hotel, and has been sticking that keycard into the door latches of Senators’ offices all day. Mitch McConnell had Capitol Police place Mickey into a wheelchair, and then drag him out of it.


The frame/art ratio is off, isn’t it? Shouldn’t the art be bigger than the frame? I’m not exactly Robert Hughes, so I’m not to be trusted on matters of art, but I always thought the art should be bigger.


Goddammit, Bobby, you couldn’t even put on your socks?


“Psst, Weir.”

“Yeah, Mick?”

“He really loves that fucking song.”

“What’s it been?”

“Twenty minutes straight.”

“He doesn’t even know we’re here. He’s just talking.”

“Well, yeah. He’s a Senator. That’s what they do.”

“You think they told him who killed JFK?”

“His co-worker’s dad did it.”



That Calhoun fellow’s got a flash haircut, man. Dunno where I’ve seen it before. (Okay, fine: would someone PLEASE ‘shop a beard onto John Calhoun?)

Playing In The Paisley Park

Reading time, Enthusiasts, but also looking. Reading is lovely, but exhausting, and sometimes you’d rather just look.

Let’s see what we’ve got in the sack: there’s the indispensable Lost Live Dead with a chronology of the Dead’s free shows, but not just a dry recap, no: Corry wouldn’t do that to us. There’s stories and subtle sarcasm, and as always a grounded reading of the Dead’s actions, rather than any airy-fairy “the music should be free” bullshit: the Dead certainly enjoyed playing surprise shows in the park as a goof, but they mostly did it to build a fanbase, and the moment they realized that broadcasting their shows on FM radio was even more efficacious and required less effort, they did that.

Dressing up in spangled clothing and rehearsing your dance moves is the opposite of the Grateful Dead, but pretty much everything Prince did was the opposite of the Dead. (Prince did not allow a Taper’s Section, and if some hippies had named an ice cream flavor after him without his permission he would have had his lawyers firebomb Vermont.) The Purple Rain tour was massive–stadiums only–and FoTotD David Browne has assembled the recollections of all involved and shared them with us. Lucky us.

For your looking pleasure, there are photos included in both of the articles. Did you think I was going to find things for you to look at? Jesus, you’re lazy.

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