Thoughts On The Dead

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

Author: Thoughts On The Dead (page 5 of 772)

The Music Never Stoppermosted

Why are you here?

“Picking out my Oscar outfit.”

You’re going to the Oscars?

“I’m dating Jennifer Lawrence.”

She seems awful.

“She is. Big crack smoker.”

Crack? Wow, retro.

“Yeah, her aesthetic is ‘Revere, Massachusetts, in 1992.’ She screams the N-word a lot.”

Why are you with her?

“Star’s a star.”

You’re despicable.

Oh, fine: talk about your clothes.

“THANK you! You’re just rude sometimes. As you can see, I’ve acquired a new toppermost. It’s called Sexual Diabetes.”

That’s a terrible name.

“It sounds better in the original Japanese.”

Can toppermosts be made anywhere other than Japan?

“Kinda. You could create a garment that wasn’t quite a robe, and not exactly a kimono, but definitely not a coat in any foreign land, but it’s gotta be from Japan to be called a toppermost. It’s like Champagne and sparkling wine.”

Sure. Did you pick this out yourself?

“Oh, absolutely. No toppermost-sei has an internet connection or anything. Gotta go to the source. I just got back. Could not sleep the entire time I was there. Things started getting weird. Then, Bill Murray seduced me obliquely.”

That’s the plot to Lost in Translation.

“Let me twirl for you.”

Oh, don’t.

“I’m gonna.”


“Did you see that?”


“The way the fabric blooms out like an enemy’s blood in the river of a fresh dawn?”


“Again: sounds better in Japanese.”

You’re like a fashion weaboo. Stop being obsessed with Japan. It’s the creepiest country to be obsessed with.

“Dude, Germany.”

Yup, you’re right. Sorry. Japan is the second creepiest country to be obsessed with. Why are the calves on your pants so tight?

“In case I have to kick something.”

That’s it.




“Did you just walk out of the room?”

“Excuse me? Hey!”

“Well, how the fuck do I get out of here?”

Just Like Radio City

“It just doesn’t work, Weir.”

“It’s a great backdrop.”

“You tacked up your old Farrah Fawcett poster.”

“Right. Great stuff. It was, uh, cold that day.”

“It’s coming down. This is a swanky place, Bob. We gotta go upscale.”

“I could draw a bowtie on her.”

“No poster.”

“Okee-doke. You’re right, this is classy in here. Much better than the Mattress Firm Amphitheater.”

“Jesus, is that what those sheds are called nowadays?”

“You got the cash, they’ll put your name on the building.”

“I miss the old days. The venues had better names.”

“Like the Miami Jai-Alai Fronton?”

“Okay, not that one.”

“Onondaga War Memorial Auditorium?”

“Ugh, not that one, either.”

“The Iowa State Fair?”

“Just forget I said anything.”


Pop Star

Can I be honest with you, long-time monitor guy Harry Popick?


Nice tush.

“Don’t be honest with me.”

You put the c in thicc.

“Which one?”


“Stop talking to me.”

It’s commanding, almost arrogant. I feel like your buttocks are judging me.

“They’re not. Go away.”

My anaconda does indeed want some.

“Be like this somewhere else.”

You should be flattered.

“Is anyone ever flattered when you do this to them?”


“There you go.”


Jeff Chimenti Gets Out The Youth Vote

This is the worst Make-A-Wish visit I’ve ever seen.

“They won’t send us kids any more. There were incidents.”

Sure. What is this?

“I’m being polite.”

You shouldn’t be.

“They gave me free tee-shirts.”

What is it with the Grateful Dead and free tee-shirts?

“Dude, that’s not a Dead thing. That’s a human thing. Ever see the crowd go nuts when the tee-shirt cannon comes out?”

You should get one. You could set it off during your big solo in Friend of the Devil. Tinkley-dinkley-FLOOMP-tinkle-dinkle.

“Pretty sure Billy would steal it and start shooting dicks from point-blank range.”

True. You should get a neck tattoo.

“If I had to have a neck tattoo, I would just as soon not have a neck.”

Just your head sitting on top of your shoulders, and you could only look left or right by swiveling your entire body like when Michael Keaton was Batman?

“Just like that, yeah.”

Sure. Give that guy some soup.

“He does look a bit anemic.”

Give him some soup and play him some Liszt.

What Do You Want Me To Duo?

“Where the hell have you been?”

“I’m not in the band any more, Bobby.”

“Are you sure? We’ve got a rug. Usually, when you and me are standing on a rug, then that means the Grateful Dead is on the move.”

“The rug notwithstanding.”

“What exactly was it we fired you for?”

“I didn’t get fired, Weir.”

“Was it sexual harassment? Very popular these days.”

“Can we just figure out what we’re gonna play, please?”

“I got a great idea. When I was in Mexico, I learned a whole bunch of narcocorridas.”

“Let’s not get the cartels involved in this.”

“You should hear ’em. They’re plaintive as all get-out. We’d, uh, need several trumpeters and the same number of giant hats.”

“Let’s stick to the usuals.”

“I sing a couple of cowboy songs, you bleat out a few of Jer’s numbers, we doodle at each other for fifteen minutes, donor rap, we’re in the van before the lights come all the way up?”


I Heard The Sound Of A Thunder; It Roared Out A Warning

Bobby sings Hard Rain real good, but no one did it as well as Leon.

Predictions For Set Two Of Bobby And Phil At Radio City

  • Dicks out for John Perry Barlow.
  • The whole set’s acapella.
  • Hologram Garcia. (Do not make Hologram Garcia.)
  • Even though it’s just the two of them, they’ll still manage to fuck up the ending to Samson.
  • A confused and out-of-place Antelope Greg wanders in and starts a fistfight with Rockstar Richard.
  • No drummers; 15 minutes Drums.
  • More stories from the ranch.
  • Out of habit, Phil tries to upsell the crowd on the jalapeno poppers.
  • You dosed the Rockettes? I dosed the Rockettes. Jesus, how many people dosed the Rockettes? We should check on them.
  • Mayor DiBlasio gets humiliated in public by a guy from Miami. (New York politics joke.)
  • “Maybe, uh, they should call it ‘Internet City Music Hall’ now. Just saying.”
  • Trey joins in on guitar, gets all psyched up to play the riff from Fire on the Mountain, Bruce Hornsby steps on it again, Trey cries.
  • Baby Levon on percussion.

The College Tour In Little Aleppo

There were three kinds of Little Aleppians: refugees, transplants, and lifers. Not everyone is cut out for the neighborhood, for streets rearranging themselves in the middle of the night, much less in broad daylight. One needed a tolerance for a wobbly reality, and some kids grew up itching to get to Akron, or Gainesville, or Santa Fe. Some poor fuckers are just born normal. The second group, the transplants, found their way. Not to get all mystical about it or anything. Everywhere around the world, they’re coming to Little Aleppo. Every time that flag’s unfurled, etc.

And then there were the lifers. Born in St. Agatha’s, most of ’em wheeled home via the Main Drag with a balloon tied to the carriage. Everyone on the sidewalk would make way. First stroll. Important milestone. KSOS and The Mister Hamburger Show while Mom got breakfast ready for the older kids, and toddled to Plummer Park for the swings. Learned to read at Eleanor Roosevelt Elementary. Learned about their bodies at Lyndon LaRouche Middle. Learned about each others’ bodies, and Shakespeare, at Paul Bunyan High. (Go Blue Oxen!)

Some went to work after graduation, and some learned a trade, such as refrigerator husbandry. Kids from the Upside got shipped Back East for college, because rich people think that college is something that happens in New England, and the brilliant kids got sent to be with other brilliant people at various institutes of technology. Every few years, a young man or woman would be such an impressive athlete that a university with an enrollment larger than Little Aleppo’s population would come recruiting.

Most everyone else attended Harper College, because Harper College was free to locals. 12 years in Little Aleppo’s public schools got you four at the college, although exceptions were often made for applicants who moved into the neighborhood around Grade 4 or so. Tuition was gratis, and room and board was nominal–cheaper than it would cost to house and feed yourself off campus–and local students received a book stipend, which they all spent on dope and posters of Rock Stars.

“Society, Mr. Harper. To it, what do we owe? Shall we leave a more clever world, or hillocks of dullards? This is the question when it comes to society.”

“Okay,” Harper T. Harper said. He was a smart man, and a successful one. He was a cunning man, and a strategic man, and he had a head for numbers. But he was not an educated man (despite having attended Yale) and so was intimidated by Carter Spants. It was 1924 and Harper had returned home from the Congo having made his fortune in rubber and Congolese hands. The Belgians wanted him dead, but he was damned if he was going to be afraid of some damned Walloon. Harper did not consider whether or not the Congolese wanted him dead.

“Have you, Mr. Harper, considered Communism?”

“Considered it and rejected it, Dr. Spants.”

“Capital decision, Mr. Harper.”

“Thoroughly. It is Godless. Did you know that?”

“I’d heard.”

“Godless and godless. I mean not one god at all. Africans were heathens, but at least they worshiped something. Communists, I don’t get it.”

“It is a puzzlement.”

“Godless in the extreme. Agitators and bomb-throwers, that’s all they are.”

Carter Spants was a smart man, too, and a successful one. He had survived intradepartmental wars at Rutgers, a sexual plagiarism scandal at Princeton. Top of his class at Yale–this was undergraduate–which is where Harper had gone (and why Carter had gotten the interview) and already a legend in several fields. He had written the book on chromatic materialism, and corrected Niels Bohr several times. In his spare time, he had translated the Odyssey into limericks, many of them quite filthy.

There once was a man from Ithaca
Who had his balls laundered in Nausicaa

He showed the suitors
That they were no shooters
And then had Penelope to stick it ta.

He had an entire sheep’s worth of sheepskins, and was an expert in winning conversations the other participant didn’t know were competitions.

“You wish to head it off at the pass?”

“Of course.”

“You despise Communism and all its tenets?”

“I do!”

“Then we must provide free education to the people!”


Carter Spants thrust forward his hand and grabbed Harper’s, shook it up and down, before he could think about the exchange. He placed a hand on Harper’s shoulder and steered him out across the grassy lot where the college would one day be.

“I see the dorms going over there.”

And the dorms did go over there.

Picture a right triangle. We’re looking at the school from above. A right triangle with the hypotenuse facing northwest. Up and to the left, if you’re skittish about cardinality. Harper Zoo is directly above the college, and is shaped like home plate. The angled side of home plate to the southeast, or down and to the right, is the shared border between the institutions.

Still got the triangle in mind? At the vertex, at the right angle, the corner on the bottom to the right, to the southeast: there stands Harper Hall. It is a collegiate structure. Five stories tall and squat at the base, made of the brickiest bricks you’ve ever seen. Gothicism abounded, and there used to be climbing ivy, but the Idiobotanics Department invented something it shouldn’t have, which mated with the ivy and then that started mating with grad students, and now there is no ivy. The Student Union and the Bookstore were on the first floor, and the offices were on the second, and above that were classrooms for subjects that did not stand a chance of burning down/blowing up/splitting apart the rest of the building. Books were discussed in Harper Hall; all the messy subjects were held next door in Alouette Hall.

We’re going clockwise.

Alouette Hall has been constantly rebuilt since it was originally built, always to the same specs, and always with the same inscription over the front doors: Aedificium non cremare. No one speaks Latin any more. The building was for the hardest of sciences. Psychochemical Engineering was in the basement, and there simply wasn’t enough ventilation down there. Unfortunately, that’s where the soda machine was, so undergrads would walk down and resurface in Belgium several months later with an entirely new personality. The administration has had several serious talks with the Psychochemical Department over the years, but the administration does not recall any of them. It was a mistake to put the AI Department and the Robotics Lab right next to each other. The Comparative Explosives Department is simply a menace.

Next door, still going clockwise, is the Tandey Arts Center, and the Fire Department had been called on the artists just as many times as the scientists. Painters smoked around their turpentine, and kilns were pushed beyond their specifications. Sculptors carved dicks out of C4–it was a statement about war, or dicks, or something–and one time a performance artist named Shimmy Furst drove a bulldozer onto campus and pushed in the whole north side of the building; she was nude in the cab of the ‘dozer, and had carved BRISEIS into her chest with a razor blade. Upon dismounting, Shimmy flung her various personal fluids at the assembled crowd. She was awarded tenure, and the Performance Art Department was disbanded, as it was decided that “knocking down a building and throwing turds at strangers while being pretentious” was the logical endpoint of performance art.

At the southwest angle, the bottom left, the 45-degree vertex, there is the Boone Gymnasium. Barn-like, with a lofted ceiling and windows under the arches on either side that let in the sunlight all through the day, and basketball hoops and pull-out bleachers and a scoreboard on the far side. Swimming pool somewhere in there, and a weight room and lockers. The whole place smells like balls.

It’s a college gym. You know what they are. Let’s move on.

The dorms were over there, four of them along the hypotenuse of the triangle, lined up neatly. Each was three stories and curled around a central courtyard.

“Terpsichore, Erato, Calliope, Ourania.”

“What now?”

“The dormitories’ names. We’ll put them along the long side of the campus, one two three four, and we’ll name them Terpsichore, Erato, Calliope, Ourania after Plato’s Four Muses.”

Harper T, Harper pretended to have known that, and Carter Spants pretended to believe him.

“The muses of dancing, writing, singing, and astronomy. Those are fine muses.”

“I don’t see what astronomy has to do with the other things.”

“That’s because you’re not an Ancient Greek. I see just the spot for the cafeteria,” Carter said, and marched off with exceptional posture so that Harper had to scrabble after him.

Harper College’s first class was the class of ’28, which means they entered the school in 1924. Erato, Calliope, and Ourania were still being built, so Dean Spants put all the freshmen–including the co-eds, though they were on a separate floor and there were chaperones–in Terpischore. The next year, he put the incoming students in Erato and let the returning ones stay where they were. This started a tradition, and since then each incoming class has occupied the same building for all four years of its tenure. Naturally, this leads to intense in-group/out-group identification which has, on occasion, spilled over into outright Dorm Wars. By the middle of the fifth or sixth semester together, the classes were semi-autonomous tribes with leaders, rebels, outcasts; everybody was sneaking around to fuck everybody else; stabbings were not common, but also not unheard of.

There were first loves in those four dorms, and first fucks, and kids took acid for the first time. Cults of personality, lines for the showers, rogue RA’s, annual low-grade pandemics of pink-eye. The buildings were square, but all of the rooms were oddly-shaped and none the same; they were assigned alphabetically: Aaronsen and Abbot in 101, Adams and Aglet in 102. You might not have anything in common with your new roomie–Adams was a chain-smoking engineer with FUCK BOATS tattooed across her forehead; Aglet was a vegan who studied poetry in between anxiety attacks–but the alphabetical thing was tradition.

Traditions are the chakras of culture.

The Snug–The motherfuggin’ Snug!–was founded in one of these dorms: Calliope, naturally. Room 212. Holiday Rhodes and Johnny Mister lived there, back when they had normal-person names. Rock Nerds would sneak in sometimes to take pictures. American Elephant was written on the roof of Ouranian. McCarson Gee’s roommate couldn’t take the typing, so McCarson built himself an open-air office up there. Just a desk and typewriter, set far back enough so that he could not be seen from the ground. He liked it up there; the book won many awards. Three non-related Ponzi schemes had begun in Erato.

The dining hall is at the apex of the campus, the most northerly point. It has been a neutral zone since 1973: vegetarian activists snuck into the kitchen and stole all the meat and fish, followed closely by vegan activists who stole the eggs and milk and honey. In response, a group that called itself Chewing Is Murder stole all the rest of the food. Dean Spants let everyone starve for a few days until the dining room was declared apolitical. The hash browns are good; the coffee is abysmal and abundant. Obviously, Taco Tuesday protocols are in effect.

Below that–we are still proceeding clockwise–is the Spants Library. It was originally named after Harper T. Harper, but he was long gone when the Dean died and the campus sought around frantically for things to rename in his honor. It’s easy to rename a building: you just need a ladder and some oversized letters in the right font. There is a belltower with a clock, and it chimes the hour at E-flat.

And then we are back to Harper Hall. Full circle around the triangle which made up Harper College, which is where all the locals attended in Little Aleppo, which is a neighborhood in America.

A Conversation That Is In No Way Analagous To One About Guns

“I don’t like the Grateful Dead.”

Well, what do you know about them?

“Excuse me?”

I mean, are you making an argument from logic and reason, or are you just being emotional?

“I don’t know. Whichever one of those ‘preference’ falls under.”

What do you know about the Dead? You can only dislike them if you know everything there is to know about them.

“That’s not how it works.”

What are some of their songs?

“I don’t know. Touch of Gray? Trucking?”

Ah-ha! It’s Truckin’. There’s no g. How can you have an opinion on something when you don’t even know how to spell it?

“Dude, I just don’t like the Grateful Dead’s music or want it around me.”

What specifically is it that you don’t understand?

“I understand it.”

Clearly you don’t.

“I do.”

Name all the keyboardists.

“How many were there?”

Depends on who you ask. Anywhere from 5 to 7.

“That doesn’t seem right.”

And yet it is, and the fact that you didn’t know that says to me that you’re not knowledgeable enough about the Dead to have an opinion on the Dead.

“You don’t need to know all the minutiae of a topic to dismiss it! I’m quite sure there’s a debate in the trepanation community about which side of the head is the best to drill into, but I don’t need to be up on the discussion before deciding not to cut a hole in my skull.”

The left side is the best.

“Fuck off.”

A Partial Transcript Of Today’s Gun Control Meeting, 2/28/18

“Did everyone try the cookies? Everyone get a cookie? These are, and you have to believe me, the most delicious cookies probably in the world. The whole world. Ratios. All in the ratios. Chips-to-dough. Can’t be too many chips, because that’s just disgusting. You got a mess there. The other way isn’t great, either. Gotta get the ratios. Mike? Where’s Mike? He never stops by lately, he’s probably in church, loves going to church. Mike?”

“Here, sir.”

“Where’s my vice-president? Mike?”

“I’m right here, sir.”

“Okay, Mike. You moved. I knew where you were, but you moved. Have you tried the cookies?”

“Sir, we have an agenda to–”

“I’m the president, and I make the agenda. Cookies are on the agenda. Eat a cookie, Mike. Jesus says it’s okay.”

“I really prefer to snack on cottage cheese and tepid water, sir.”

“Mike, I need your loyalty on this. Are you gonna be loyal, Mike? I need cookie loyalty.”

“I’ll have his cookies, Mr. President.”

“Who said that? What?”

“Dianne Feinstein, sir.”

“Where are you?”

“Literally six inches to your left, sir.”

“I knew that. I saw you the entire time, Dianne Feinstein, right, very Democratic, very bad.”

“Oh, I’m not so bad.”

“You’re not so bad.”


“You were right, Mr. President. About a lot of things, but specifically these cookies. The best.”

“The best!”

“You pick the best cookies.”

“I do. I pick the best cookies.”

“Hey, let’s ban assault weapons.”

“Y’know, that’s a good idea. Hey, everybody: let’s ban assault weapons.”


“Mr. President, if I might speak from personal experience here: when I was shot last year at a Congressional softball practice–”

“Steve Something.”

“–I was saved…Scalise, sir…by several armed–”

“I like Senators that don’t get shot. We got too many guns. I’m not talking about bing bing bing, I’m talking about the whammajammas. Whatever they’re called, the black ones. We gotta get rid of the black whammajammas, gentlemen. Up to me, I do a comprehensive. All at once, we create something beautiful. We do a comprehensive and we do a bipartisan.”

“Mr. President, I think we’re drifting–”

“Mike, how are we doing with that cookie?”

“I’m fine with the cookie.”

“Filet-O-Fish? I’ll call the guy.”

“Sir, while we are all deeply saddened by the tragedy in Parkand, we need to make sure we’re not having a knee-jerk reaction.”

“Not like this is the first one. Keeps happening! These are sick people, sick, and they’re crazy in the head. And that’s sad. But there’s nothing you can do for crazy. Sad. Nothing you can do. But they got guns! I think we gotta take the guns. Go in there and grab ’em. First you grab the guns, and then you worry about the legal. The legal will come later. Forget about the legal, you gotta grab the guns.”

“I think we need to worry about ‘the legal,’ sir.”

“Man, this guy. Mike Pence loves guns so much. Mike, how much did the NRA give you this year?”

“We’re on teevee, sir.”

“Tons! They own half this room. NRA owns you guys, but we gotta do something about the guns.”

“Mr. President, may I have another scrumptious cookie?”

“Absolutely, Dianne.”

“You have the best taste in snacks.”

“Many people tell me that. Great snacks.”

“Much better than Obama.”

“Yes, yes, much better than Obama.”

“Hey, let’s raise the age limit on handguns to 21.”

“Great idea. Hey, everybody–”



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