Thoughts On The Dead

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

Author: Thoughts On The Dead (page 5 of 748)

Bandmates, Identical Bandmates

Holy shit.


You’re starting to look like him.

“Xavier Cugat?”


“Alfredo Garcia?”

Jerry. Your friend and bandmate.

“Ah. Y’think?”

Little bit. Of course, it took you til 70 to look like he did at 40.

“That’s clean living for ya.”

You said it. How’s John?



“Better. Getting his strength back. This afternoon, he was able to solo briefly.”

Good to hear. You yoinking his pain pills?

“Absolutely not.”

Is he sharing them?



Hospital, Johnny

Hey, Slugger.

“Oh, not you. Not today.”

I’m just here to check up on my guy. Nothing but positive vibes and cheerful words.

“Uh-huh. Are my disembodied appendix and Miles Davis coming to kill me?”

Not until you get better.


I swear. And no one’s gonna call you and start talking foolishness at you, and Katy Perry isn’t going to launch cruise missiles at your house, and you’re gonna be left to recuperate in peace. Even the semi-fictional version of you has earned some bed rest.

“Thank you.”

Did they give you ice cream?

“That’s when you get your tonsils out.”

The tonsils and the appendix are very similar organs.

“They’re not.”

So, what happened? Give TotD the exclusive story so I can sell it to Relix and make a fortune.

“You know you’re not actually talking to me, right?”

Shut up and tell me what happened.

“I was in my hotel room in New Orleans. Wasn’t gonna go out, so I had so many options. Should I solo? Buy stuff online? Laundry? The night lay before me like a highway.”


“And then imagine a fat guy.”


“A fat guy made of knives with barbed wire for hair.”

Pubes, too?



“And now imagine that fat guy made of knives and barbed wire is dancing in your abdomen.”

What kind of dancing?


Oh, that sounds terrible.

“It wasn’t good. I was, like, doing this cry/yell thing for a couple minutes and Bobby heard and came in the room.”

How did Bobby get in your room?

“We always have adjoining suites and leave the door unlocked in case there’s thunder.”

Makes sense.

“Dude, Bobby was awesome. That wonderful man literally picked me up and carried me down to the lobby.”

He did?

“He fucking did, man. Course, he threw his back out and now he’s in the next room.”

“Is that jackass bothering you while you’re in the hospital, Josh!?”

“Don’t worry about it, Bobby!”

I know when I’m not wanted.

“You don’t. But whatever, there’s one more thing you have to do.”


“Get Billy and Mickey out of here.”

They visited you at the hospital? That’s sweet.

“They stole half the pharmacy and crashed an ambulance into the gerontology department.”

What floor is that on?


I’ll see what I can do. Go lay down, buddy.

“Okay. No bullshit for a while, promise me.”

I promise. But you gotta promise me one thing.

“You must be joking. What?”

Think about keeping the mustache.

“You like it?”

It’s awesome. Just shave the shit off your chin. Give the ‘stache pride of place.

“I’ll think about it. Fuck off.”


Upcoming Newspaper Headlines About Australia’s Marriage Equality Vote

  • Cockodile Yummy!

Wait, what?

  • Throw Another Twink On The Barbie!


  • Vagemite!

Jesus, no. What are you doing?

  • Upside-Down Homosexuals!

I demand you stop this right now.

  • Gay Marriage: What Does The Sax Player From INXS Think?

Who cares? End this bit; it’s offensive.

To who? Australians? Homosexuals?

Talented comedy writers.


You deserved it.

I know. Still hurts.


An Important Announcement From Dead & Company

Oh, no.

“The Florida shows are back on.”

Bobby, do not invite Sammy Hagar to join the Grateful Dead.

“The show must go on.”

No. It truly doesn’t. Besides, “The show must go on” is propaganda. Vaudeville owners used to tell the acts that to get ’em to work while they were hurt.

“Huh. Is that true?”

Sounds plausible, doesn’t it?

“Sure. Listen, the Deadheads deserve a concert and Sammy’s available. He knows the songs.”

Does he?

“Three Lock Box of Rain.”


“Eyes of the Best of Both Worlds.”


“Well, don’t know what to say. He’s in. We took a vote.”

You took a vote?

“Well, the four of us who get votes did.”

You do realize how bad of a look it is to not allow Oteil a vote, right?


Black Phil.

“Hey, uh, White Phil didn’t get a vote either.”

Bobby, this is not a good idea.

“I think it is. And Sammy’s all in. Right, Sam?”


“You heard him.”


“Okay, Sam. I’ll tell him. Uh, Sammy doesn’t like your negativity.”

What? How did you get that from “WOO?”

“I can translate Sammy Hagar into English.”


“Sure, Sam. I’d love a cup of coffee.”


“Yes, I still do take it with cream and sugar. How thoughtful of you.”


“You’re my best friend, too, Sammy Hagar.”


“Except for Jimi Hendrix. Right, right.”

What the fuck is going on?

“Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy?”

Sammy Hagar is not fucking Groot, Bobby.


“Calm down, Red Rocker. He didn’t mean anything by it.”


“You better wrap this post up. I don’t know how much longer I can keep him calm.”

Nothing fucking makes sense around here.

You Had To See It Coming


“Yeah, yeah. Like you’re such a prize.”

Who the hell are you?

“I’m John Mayer’s appendix.”

Oh, COME ON. It’s not bad enough I chat with abstract concepts, dead famous animals, and stools; I gotta talk to pop stars’ internal organs now?

“Hey, I’m not internal anymore.”

Same difference.

“I’m getting a lot of visceraphobia here.”

Not a thing.


Whatever. So what’s your deal, anyway? 40 years of doing absolutely nothing and you explode?

“But I didn’t explode. Didn’t even get a chance to fulfill my destiny.”

Your destiny?

“Murdering John Mayer.”


“Me and his spleen have been talking about it for years. Fuck that guy.”


“Ever hear his songs?”

Yes, but that’s no reason to murder the guy.

“No, no. Who does he talk about in his songs? The heart. Eyes. Ears. Lungs. Hands. Every fucking body part gets a song, but me? What do I get? Bupkiss, that’s what I get. Fuck that guy.”


“I will not be ignored.”

You will be now. You’ve almost certainly been thrown away.

“Oh, no. I got rescued. Someone came and got me, and then plan’s still on. John Mayer will pay for how he treated us.”

Someone? Us? Who is “someone?” Who is “us?”

“You know who, motherfucker.”


“Me and the bitch’s appendix won’t be treated this fucking way.”

I hate everything about this universe.

“Appendix, get in the fucking car.”

“Can I drive?”

“You ain’t got no hands, motherfucker. No, you can’t drive.”


Get Well, John

I don’t want to
Die before my time
Already used
Eight of my lives

Asked My Family Doctor What’s Ailing Me

Early this morning, the Dead’s luck in New Orleans continued when John Mayer was taken to the hospital complaining of abdominal pain. He’s since undergone an emergency appendectomy and–hopefully–is now flirting with nurses and making his assistants bring him clothes because the hospital gown simply won’t do.

Get well, Josh. There’s still soloing to do.

(Tonight’s show will be rescheduled; no word on the Thursday and Friday concerts.)


Just Might Be Your Kind Of Zoo In Little Aleppo

Little Aleppians are from time to time permitted to name incoming animals to the Harper Zoo; they shouldn’t be. Either no one participates in the publicity event and the keepers slap a cheesy faux-ethnic name on the poor creature, or everyone participates way too hard and brawls break out and factions are formed and leaders rise. In ’56, the zoo asked the neighborhood to christen the new yak over KSOS in the morning, and by that night the Main Drag was in flames over the question of “Yak Benny” vs. “I Am Just A Foreign Cow And I Shouldn’t Be In A Zoo.” Both the LAPD (No, Not That One) and the Town Fathers became involved, which meant everyone had to pass a hat around for the bribes, and that took a lot of air out of the riot. Street warfare has a certain momentum it needs to maintain itself.

The shakedown was seen as just by the shake-ees: there were certain unbreakable rules a society needed to uphold, and one of them was “no knife fights in the Main Drag.” After a month of committee meetings, exploratory missions to Las Vegas, and thousands of pages of testimony, the Town Fathers came to a conclusion that there was no more juice to be squeezed from this particular berry, and named the yak Nancy at two in the morning when no one was looking. When the angry rival gangs arrived at Harper Zoo the next morning, they saw that there was indeed a plaque bearing the name of Nancy, and under that was information about yaks and their lives and diets and hobbies. Must have been three feet across, the plaque, and all engraved. A zookeeper in blue coveralls was polishing it with a rag and spray bottle.

The angry rival gangs paused.

“You can’t argue with that.”

“No. That’s official.”

“The yak is named Nancy. Okay. Hey, didn’t you stab me?”

“Everybody stabbed everybody. The details are unimportant. Let’s go get breakfast.”

And so the two angry rival gangs did become one hungry crowd that went for breakfast. The yak, who was named Nancy and had a plaque to attest to it, may or may not have noticed. The neighborhood’s opinion was not solicited for quite some time, but institutional memories fade and dumb ideas are recycled every generation, which is why Harper Zoo’s lion is named Kevin and there is also a large plaque with his name and fun facts about him outside his enclosure.

Kevin would or would not be Harper Zoo’s last lion.

When Harper T. Harper returned from making his fortune in the Congo, he began his new career of naming things after himself with a grand palace to knowledge and man’s mastery of the universe. On the land left over, he built the college. They would both turn out to be embarrassments to him: the school, almost immediately; the zoo, eventually.

Harper T. Harper loved looking at animals. Unlike most of the men of his day, he was not a hunter. They every much right to live as you or me, Harper would tell people, but “existence” was where the animals’ rights ended for Harper. Or maybe they had the full complement? If animals did have rights, then certainly mine supersede theirs, and it is my right as a Christian to make condors and gnus to live at my house.

35 acres on the Upside in between the Main Drag and the sea, the zoo is the shape of home plate with the sharpish bit facing south. A walking path runs around the inner perimeter; there are exhibits on both sides of the path. Two trails cut through the interior of home plate from north to south at just the parabola at which the stitching curves into a baseball. (Harper T. Harper famously loved baseball; his architect secretly loved charging as much as he could get away with, and figured catering to the old hand-chopper’s hobbies would do the trick.)

Nestled underneath the zoo is Harper College. Directly under. During The Bake, the college can small the zoo, and when the college gets baked, the zoo can smell that. The two similarly-named institutions are separated only by a fence hidden by bushes and ivy, and there is a sidewalk along the fence that is, in places, poorly lit. There had been deaths, yes, but all of them occurred within the animals’ enclosures and, well, that was on you. Carter Spants mentioned it in his Orientation address every year for four decades; alumni could recite his speech by heart:

“You’re going to break into the zoo because you’re all wicked children, but further illegal entry once within our neighboring cousin is strongly disadvised. Anyone who monkeys with the snack shop or horses around with the souvenir stand will be ferreted out.”

Dean Spants would pause for mild laughter here.

“And summarily expelled and forced into the military.”

Dean Spants paused here, too, but there was no laughter because it was the past and kids who fucked up could totally be forced into the military.

“I continue with a reminder and a warning: you don’t need to get eaten, and everyone will make fun of you for years if you do. No matter how popular you are, trust me. Branquist was the Big Man on Campus, big strapping fellow with a mop of blond curls. Everyone loved him, but Branquist didn’t know two things: 1, you shouldn’t mix tequila with jazz cigarettes; and 2, you can’t alligator wrestle a crocodile. Far more cantankerous species. Did we mourn him? Yes, of course. But did the students start called breakfast “Branquist?” Also yes. They did that immediately. The next year, the school’s mascot was the Crocodiles and the logo was a cartoon croc and would you like to guess what color the cartoon croc’s curly hair was?

“If you are eaten, you will be mocked.

Dean Spants would then usually talk about the life of the mind, and sign-ups for the intramural leagues.

Kept from meddling with the school by the school charter Dean Spants had tricked him into signing–he still contends that Spants jerkoff hypnotized him–Harper turned all his energies towards his menagerie. Animals were easier to buy in the 30’s, and Harper knew mercenaries all over the world from his days in the Congo. It turns out that mercenaries are well-suited to the business of kidnapping megafauna and don’t even pretend to act indignant when you ask. Harper trusted mercenaries more than military men; it was always a chore to figure out precisely what the latest buffoon in a general’s uniform wanted when they sent for you, but mercenaries just wanted money. They were far more honest criminals, Harper thought.

His collection, most of which was lacking paperwork of any sort and had been delivered in the middle of the night in exchange for an envelope fill of cash, grew. The vets tried to keep everything from dying, and the keepers tried to keep everything from killing each other. If either failed, well: you could always buy some more zebras. The cages were steel bars and poured concrete floors with metal drains embedded in them for when the animals were bathed with cold water hoses. Most were mangy and some were crippled or clearly dying and it was the 30’s, so there was also the occasional cage containing an ethnic.

But it was a dime to get in, and another nickel for popcorn, and in the Depression it was a day passed well to sit in a manicured meadow and look at animals that did not belong in that particular meadow. Even during the darkest days, with war brewing across the ocean and nothing in your belly or pockets, you could sit on a bench and look at an anteater. Used to be, you had to live where the anteaters did to look at them. Then, kings and queens got to look at anteaters. But now, the common man could look at an anteater for as long as he wanted. That’s the American Dream.

Harper T. Harper strolled around every day in the morning at then again after lunch. His driver would sit in the idling Stutz right outside the entrance and Harper would make a clockwise orbit. The keepers called him Mr. Harper and told him about the condor’s wing, or the orangutan’s tooth, and the children all knew that if they smiled and said, “Hi, Uncle Harper,” then he’d give them a nickel. Twice a day every day, even when the zoo wasn’t open to the public, for years. By 1963, he was being wheeled around, still clockwise, and the driver still sat outside in the idling Stutz. He said hello to Nancy, who was a yak, and felt his left side go light and his head felt airy. The last thought Harper T. Harper had was: I wonder how big the headline will be? Vain to the last, but he should have picked a different day in November if he wanted to make the front page. His obituary, written years earlier, noted his philanthropy, and charitable works, and the hand he had in building Little Aleppo, appeared on page B5. A line in the ninth paragraph notes that there were “…always ethical concerns about the source of Mr. Harper’s wealth…” but continues “…which Little Aleppo decided to ignore.”

The zoo went on. The tapirs needed feeding, and the ostrich was picking at her feathers again, and the hyenas seemed depressed. The local rats were cross-breeding with the prairie dogs; both the veterinary and zoology departments at Harper College determined that it was genetically impossible for that to happen, but the keepers had been chasing down little mutant prairie rat babies for a week and drowning them in the tub, so they didn’t want to hear any shit from the professors.

And Congo wasn’t doing well.

Everyone told him not to buy an elephant. We’re a small zoo and we don’t have the room for an elephant, the keepers pleaded with him, but he didn’t listen to anyone even before he went deaf, and so a few years before Harper’s death, Congo showed up in the middle of the night with no paperwork. She was an adolescent, and should have been with her mother and aunts. Take something terrible to separate them. They don’t teach you in veterinary school that elephants have nightmares, and that the noises they make during them are remarkably human. They tried everything, even giving Congo away to an elephant preserve; the other cows rejected her and were so violent that she was shipped right back to her cage, even sadder and more shrouded than before. A new enclosure: bigger and open to the sky with a moat around it to keep her in, with several levels and places to hide from the crowd and stout trees to scratch herself on. Nothing worked until the dog, a goofy blue heeler named Shep, who took to Congo like she was a milkbone with a trunk.

The two became mildly famous. PBS came by to shoot some footage, and big newspapers from out of town came by to run articles about the interspecies friendship. Two generations of Little Aleppo’s kids grew up on the Congo and Shep children’s books; they solved crime, or filed for a lien against a contractor who had done shoddy work, or learned how to make gnocchi. The pair were made into a simple logo and placed on every piece of merch that the Harper Zoo souvenir stand could get its hands on.

But what gave an elephant life may have doomed a zoo. Seeing the elephant’s joy in the dog only underlined the sorrow she lived. Beginning that day, the zookeepers and staff of Harper Zoo stopped buying animals out of the wild, and the breeding programs stopped shortly afterwards, and since then the 35 acres in the sheltered wood of the Upside has been the final repository for around a dozen circuses-worth of broken, beat-up, and busted creatures. Roadside petting zoo in Petaluma goes bust? Harper would take some goats. Crazy asshole in Akron with a bunch of tigers out back dies? Send one over; there’s room somewhere. The reptile house had been stocked exclusively from the mansion of a dead rock star, and the chimp used to be on teevee. Bootsy the alligator used to protect a drug dealer’s apartment.

Last stop for the out-of-place.

The kids still came by and ate their popcorn, though the prices had risen quite a bit, and mothers rolled their babies around home plate on nice days. They pointed and named the world for their children. When the sun went down and the customers had gone, an elephant and her dog would slip their bonds–just a little bit–and survey their entire world, which was a manicured meadow in Little Aleppo, which is a neighborhood in America.

All Of You Have Disappointed Me

Deeply, and possibly permanently. This is the kind of sorrowful betrayal that leaves a scar, Enthusiasts. Perhaps this latest defeat will harden me like it did the little boy in Old Yeller, and I’m not talking about the well-known weepy ending, I mean the after-credit scene where the kid’s dad tells him, “And now we eat him,” and then there’s a five-minute long shot of the boy silently cooking a dog omelette. I am that disappointed, Enthusiasts. I am little-boy-killing-preparing-and-eating-his-beloved-pet disappointed, and it is in you.

Dead & Company are playing a half-hour from Fillmore South on Friday (12/8/17) and none of you have contacted me to arrange my Praetor’s Suite-level guest experience. No car service has called and given me a chance to reject all of their vehicles. (I travel either in the rear-facing seats of an Isuzu Brat or the limo with the hot tub in the back from the Phil Collins video.) The on-site concierge has not inquired about my dietary restrictions (many), my allergies (strawberries, toil), and my temperature preferences (crank the air and bring me a parka). I’m assuming the bar is open, but I don’t know. Am I entitled to a complimentary massage from the Florida Panthers’ trainer? I don’t know. What does the gift bag contain? I don’t know. And I hate not knowing.

How dare you not come through for me after all I’ve done for you?

“But, TotD,” you might reply. “This is quite literally the first you’ve mentioned of any desire to go to the show.”

You’re trying to destroy me, aren’t you?

You’d say, “What now?”

You want me gone so you can take my place. I see it now. You want to marry my husband, and take my children. I never should’ve hired you to babysit!

“I don’t understand what’s happening here,” you’d say, concerned.

And then I shoot you with a harpoon gun. My point is this, Enthusiasts: don’t put your failings on me. How can you call yourself readers and miss subtext this non-submissive? It’s barely subtext: it’d domtext. Go back! Go back and read through the past month or so, and you’ll notice a theme: “I’d maybe kinda like to go the Dead & Company show but don’t wanna pay for it or put any planning or effort into it, but obviously I’d fucking write about it and shit.” I swear it’s there, Enthusiasts; go and read. (Pro Tip: the more you want to see the theme, the easier it will be to see.)

Number one on my list: all of you.

Major publications, important newsgatherers, and beloved websites have fallen off (or been murdered) at an increasing pace. Why? Because they do not arrange for me to attend the 12/8/17 Dead & Company show in pampered luxury. Recently, Brian Ross of ABC News incorrectly reported that the President had been implicated by Michael Flynn in his plea deal; the story was retracted, and Ross suspended, but the stain on the organization remains. Could this have been prevented if ABC had sent me to the Dead show? Yes. Absolutely: yes. How dare you?

Number two on my list: the lying, failing, fake news media.

I include the band in my dudgeon. (Except Oteil, who is a perfect beam of sunshine.) How dare you, Dead & Company? Pardon my French, but comment osez-vous? You know where I live. You knew you were going to be here. I know I was discussed at Thanksgiving dinner. Yet: no laminate. Where is my laminate? (I can provide my own cord.) Should I call Will Call? Will Will Call call me? Shouldn’t Will Call be Will Text nowadays?

“Hey, Josh, you know that obsessive weirdo my lawyer is keeping an eye on?”

“TotD? He recently had me sodomized and murdered.”

“Yeah, that guy. We should hang out with him.”

See how easy that is, guys? If I didn’t know any better, I would swear that rock stars only thought about themselves.

Number three on my list: the band I want tickets to see. (Don’t analyze it, just go with it.)

In conclusion:

  • How dare you?

Thank you.

Old Friends And A Truly Unexpected Cameo


What’s this now?

Handsome bastard alert.

Please don’t be weird.

Look at ’em! Specimens, these two. Looks like the intro to a high-quality pornograph.

Stop it.

Is a lady getting thrown in there? Are they doing stuff on each other? The opening shot of a dirty movie is so important. Remember The Cockfather? The guy’s sitting there in the dramatic lighting and he goes “I blow loads on America” and–

I need you to shut up.

–BADABOOM Michael gets it all over his nice ivy league suit.

Are you done?

I need a cigarette.

Is there a reason you’ve posted this picture?

Of course. To remind the Enthusiasts that Christmas is approaching and there may be no better present than a book. Books don’t need batteries, or spy on you for the NSA, and they weren’t put together by Chinese slave labor. Books don’t lock women in their office and masturbate at them. Books don’t retweet racist jokes on Twitter. (Their authors sometimes do, but don’t blame the book for its writer being a shithead.) A book will never steal twenty dollars from your purse and use it to buy scratch tickets and Dust-Off. Books will not laugh at your genitals, unless you are talking about Dickens’ lost classic You Call That A Dick?

So buy books for Christmas. The Deadhead in your life will love This Is All A Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History Of The Grateful Dead by David Gans and Blair Jackson and the history buff will appreciate Chris Jennings’ Paradise Now: The Story of American Utopianism. Hell, don’t believe me: go ask Sci-Fi Loni Anderson.

“I think David and Chris’ books are out of this world!”

See? Go buy their books.

Older posts Newer posts
%d bloggers like this: