Thoughts On The Dead

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

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There’s No Justice; Just This

“Why do you treat me so bad, Zack?”

“Baby, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve changed.”

“You haven’t.”

“I’ve lightened up.”

“Everything’s still grey and blue.”

“I meant my tone.”

“Oh. Yeah, I don’t believe that, either. It’s just gonna be the same thing if I come back.”

“No, baby. It’s gonna be different this time.”

“I want to believe you.”

“Believe me! Look what I did to Aquaman for you. That’s not your father’s Aquaman.”

“I think he might just suck in a different way.”



“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Don’t make me hit you again.”

“You’re right, that was my fault.”

“It’s, like, you didn’t even notice that his trident has five prongs. That’s 66% more extreme!”

“Sure, but doesn’t the “tri” in “trident mean–”


“Please stop making me hit you!”

“You’re right, Zack.”

“I’m just under so much pressure at work. No one understands how much better my movies are than Marvel’s.”

“They’re all stupid, Zack. Everyone’s stupid and you’re right.”

“I know!”

“You’re making DC great again.”

“I know. No one realizes how much time it takes to make EVERYTHING shiny and weightless and over-designed!”

“I love you, baby.”

“I love you, too.”


“I love you, too.”

The Daily Recounting 3/24/17

WINNER People who enjoy medical care.

LOSER Paul Ryan, holy shit, Paul Ryan. The last time I saw an L this big, it was in the Hollywood sign. Trust your old pal TotD: there are at least five men in D.C. right now planning a run on the Speaker’s job. I didn’t read that anywhere; it’s not a fact. But you know it’s true, right?

WINNER Not the Democrats, and they ought to knock off the gloating and public preening. They won the fight because the other guy knocked himself out. (Actually, if we go with the boxing analogy, the Republicans didn’t even make it to the ring. Maybe they slipped during the walk in from the dressing room and, like, cracked their head on a chair.) This is a victory for the Democrats, but only because it’s a two-party system

LOSER I simply cannot believe that the Mandarin Moron hasn’t EXPLODED with rage on Twitter yet. Frankly, I’m disappointed. He did cold-call Robert Costa at the Washington Post to break the news that the vote had been called off before the official announcement had been made, though. It’s the little incompetencies that are the sweetest.

(I don’t usually link to anything so as to make it perfectly clear that this is not a reputable place to get your news, but you must read this behind-the-scenes piece by Tim Alberta. Enthusiasts, we may be saved by their stupidity. This presidential administration means us harm, do not doubt that, and they will shit in rivers and pull food from children’s hands, but it is turning out that they might not be able to because they’re just too fucking dumb.)

WINNER Bannon. Paul Ryan is humiliated, chaos is increased, Black Label is on sale at the liquor store. Good times for Stevie.

LOSER Devin Nunes. Nooner used today’s whooptydeedoo to cancel a scheduled hearing, plus he apparently disappeared off the grid for an hour right before he made his unannounced announcement the other day. Remember? He came out with “classified information” that showed Trump Tower had, indeed, been the subject of something called incidental collection. Trump was right, and he said so (as he so often does). The problem is that “incidental collection” isn’t just some random phrase; it means something specific. Incidental collection is when an American citizen calls a foreign national who is under surveillance. Which means Devin just confirmed that, at the very least, the Trump Campaign was calling suspicious motherfuckers.

Oh, also: he got the classified information from the White House, because that’s where he went when he disappeared. The head of the House committee investigating the president is getting sent out to cover for him. This ends well, usually. (Ten bucks says Devin ends up in jail. Any takers?)

WINNER John motherfucking Boehner. Drinking his wine, smoking his butts, and laughing his orange ass off.

LOSER The concept of dignity.

An Alternative Notion For John Mayer

Dear John,

Hi. How are you? I’m fine. I went to a baseball game the other day. Do you like baseball? Further pleasantries.

John, I noticed you did an interview with the New York Times recently with the writer Joe Coscarelli; do you think it went well? I can never tell with these things, and I certainly can’t discern intent from the excerpts he posted the next day of quotes cherry-picked to make you look like an asshole. On the other hand, you are like a goddamned cherry farm, John Mayer. Everywhere you look, there are cherries of various ridiculousness.

I’m the only one who’s gonna tell you the truth, John: you’re never getting another fair shake from a reporter, at least not one who works for a respectable organization. Every single longform, glossy-paged article about you for the rest of your career will be: A, rehashing of past dumb shit you’ve said; B, them letting you ramble on in hopes that you’ll say new dumb shit.

And you’re gonna say dumb shit:

What the fuck is wrong with you? Stop talking about “exclusive dating apps” to writers from Brooklyn, because it makes them hate you. “Coscarelli.” Probably an anarchist, and you’re whipping your gold-plated dick out at him and then you wonder why the Times ran a hit piece on you.

WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS? You’re talking to a reporter. He probably has to sell his own blood to afford drinks, and you’re bragging about how much you spend on Japanese trousers. AND WHY THE FUCK DO YOU NEED JAPANESE TROUSERS, JACKASS? Something so wrong with you, man.

Here is my offer:

I notice that you will be appearing in South Florida this summer. (Summer is the best time to visit. If you don’t visit in the summer, then it’s not 102 degrees with swarms of flying cockroaches dive bombing you.) I will come to your concert and teach you how to behave during interviews; I will train up a Rock Star. These services will be free, but I have many demands.

  • Tickets. (Obviously.)
  • Parking. (Also obviously.)
  • Full and unfettered access to catering.
  • Merch yoinking privileges.
  • You will be called Josh.
  • I don’t know if you do any Dead songs in your solo shows, but if you do Playing in the Band, I must be allowed to perform the Donna Wail.

I await your reply. In the meantime, speak with no members of the media except Gans or Lambert.

Thoughts on the Dead

The Trump Administration Travels Through Time

The Reichstag, Feburary 1933

“Anyone see us?”

“No, we’re good. Okay, burn it down.”

“What? Me?”


“I thought you had the matches.”

“You were supposed to bring them.”

“The matches were your responsibility.”

“Well, do you have a lighter?”

“I have a vape pen.”

“That doesn’t help.”

“What if we break the windows?”

“You can’t start World War II by breaking windows, jackass.”

Sarajevo, June 1914

“There he is.”


“I see him.”

“Not him.”


“I shot the archduke!”

“No, you didn’t! That’s just a regular duke.”


“Do you mean to tell me you don’t know the difference between a duke and a archduke?”

“I just assumed–”


“–they’d be much more physically dissimilar.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Who’d I shoot?”

“No idea.”

“Is this gonna start World War I?”

“Almost certainly not.”

Spain, 1478

“What do you mean ‘You lost the Jews?'”

“They were right here in the ghetto last time I looked.”

“They’re not here now.”

“Which is odd, because I told them to be up bright and early today for the Inquisition.”

“You told them about it!?”

“You don’t want to just spring the Spanish Inquisition on someone who isn’t expecting it.”


“Doesn’t seem sporting.”

“Regardless. We now have no Jews. To whom will we make our inquiries?”

“It’s almost like our boundless enthusiasm for evil is outmatched by our infinite capacity for incompetence.”


Thoughts On Netflix’ Hip-Hop Evolution

  • Big, big recommend; five stars; two thumbs.
  • Watch it, is what I’m saying: four 45-minute episodes, so it’s not even a slog.
  • (I was either going to watch this or The West by Ken Burns, and Hip Hop Evolution‘s brevity won it for me, plus Peter Coyote does not narrate HHE.)
  • And I’m not saying that this is a groundbreaking–or even particularly deep–documentary; in fact, it has almost everything in common with the rock docs littering Netflix:
    • VHS footage of young man in ridiculous clothing.
    • Interview with older iteration of young man wearing a large watch.
    • Repeat.
  • The real problem, which I got over and you might or might not, is the narrator’s voice.
  • Not vocal fry, but vocal sigh: it is the NPR voice, it is the voice explaining feminism to women, it is the podcast from Oberlin voice; it is the voice that caused Trump to win the election.
  • The narrator is the first thing you hear, over shots of New York and subway cars covered in graffiti and breakdancing youths.
  • And you think to yourself,
  • “Goddammit, a white guy made this.”
  • And then you think,
  • “What difference should it make if a white guy made it?”
  • And then you tell yourself,
  • “Get the fuck out of here with that.”
  • And then you double down,
  • But then the guy comes on the screen and he’s black.
  • But he’s Canadian.
  • And you no longer know how you’re supposed to feel about anything, and have lost track of who is authentic and who is not, and just watch the damn film.
  • (The narrator/director does do that thing where he’s on camera while doing the interviews for no reason other than he wanted to be.)
  • Hip hop was born in ’72.
  • A guy named Clive Campbell, whom everyone called DJ Kool Herc, was playing a party in a Bronx housing project rec room; he tried something for the first time, something he’d been working on in his bedroom.
  • He’d put two copies of the same record on his turntables–James Brown or the Incredible Bongo Band, no one remembers exactly–and just play the break, the drummer’s breakdown that only lasted a few bars, first on the left ‘table and then on the right while rewinding the left record to the start of the break.
  • Then he’d flip the fader back and start over again, and so made the best part of the record–the part that was too damn funky to last for very long because those levels of funk are dangerous to handle–last for as long as he wanted.
  • The dance floor went insane, and it was a dance floor full of familiar names: Grandmasters Flash and Caz, and Afrika Bambaata, and Melle Mel, the entire first generation of hip-hop.
  • It was the Sex Pistols’ set in Manchester, basically.
  • Everyone who heard it started their own band.
  • I don’t feel like doing a whole Hip-Hop Without Research thing, so here are random thoughts:
  • Y’know how all the rock stars in the rock docs live in mansions?
  • Not so much in the hip hop doc; several of the interviews start with four or five deadbolts opening on an apartment door.
  • I’ve never heard anyone curse as much as Schoolly D: the man answered a question by saying, “That’s what the fuck I’m fucking talking about, motherfucker!”
  • I don’t even know what part of speech that first “fuck” would be.
  • Is “what” the word it modifies?
  • “What” is a pronoun, so I guess “the fuck” would be an adjectivial phrase?
  • Schoolly D confuses me just as much as school did.
  • DMC, who is delightful, was in it; he looks like the same ol’ Darryl.
  • Run was not in it, which is perhaps for the best because he has become Blackula.
  • You know how much you have to love Jesus to put on a cape?
  • (His brother Russell is in it, and lisps his way through his interview with his feet up on his million-dollar couch.)
  • I wasn’t kidding about the watches: John Mayer has nothing on old hip-hop guys; some of them can barely raise their arms.
  • “Hip-hop is nothing like rock and roll,” the hip-hopper said while wearing sunglasses indoors, surrounded by his gold records.
  • Number of women with speaking parts: two, one of which was a secretary at Def Jam, and the other was Roxanne Shante.
  • Number of balding white men in front of impeccably-curated bookshelves with speaking parts: three.
  • Black man’s got it tough in America, but the black woman’s got it worse.
  • Not one mention of the Mac Daddy, nor the Daddy Mac.

On The Limits Of Tolerance

Are all viewpoints acceptable?

To believe? Yes. You can believe whatever you want.

What about to espouse?

No. A community, city, society has the right to define the acceptable parameters of public discourse.

So some viewpoints are unacceptable?

The practice of said viewpoints. Feel free to believe you’re a dracula. Swoop around in a cape all day–

All night.

Yeah, I guess that guy would swoop around at night. Anyway: you can think yourself possessed by the Curse of the Whampyr all you want, but when you start breaking into virgins’ bedrooms and chomping on necks, then the authorities need to become involved.

You’re a typical liberal fascist Nazi thug.

I’m not typical.

So much for the tolerant left.

Ah. Can I ask you what you do for a living?

I’m a chef.

How lucky for me, as I have an elaborate metaphor that requires you be one.

What a coincidence.

Bigly. Now, what kind of food do you cook?

Oh, I cook it all. Tex. Mex. Steak. Cake. Whatever, man, I actually pride myself on using every ingredient I can find. I search for different flavors and textures all over the world, and I’ll try just about anything.


Anything! Common food, or really exotic stuff. It’s all welcome in my pot!


Hell, yeah.

Sheep face?


The spiciest chili pepper in the world?

Bring it on!



Bleach. The liquid with the bleaching properties.

I know what bleach is, and if I didn’t, your definition wouldn’t have helped at all.

I’m not helpful. Bleach?

Of course I wouldn’t cook with bleach.

Just a little bit.

None at all. Just a little bit would ruin all the food.

A shit-stained pillowcase from a sex club for couples in Harrisburg, PA.

Wow, no.

I thought you said everything was welcome in your pot.

These things are not food. Putting them in the pot would destroy everything.

You’re right. Sorry. What about White Supremacy?

That’s a concept.

More of an ethos.

What’s the difference?

A concept is an idea at the beginning of its life. White Supremacy has been well and truly thought out. You might even call it a viewpoint.

I see what you’re doing, but the fact remains that you can’t put an abstraction into a cooking pot.

If you could, though. Like, if you were making some bibambap.

Love that ‘bap.

Just about everything on the planet gets thrown in there. If you could, would you add White Supremacy?

I would not.

People are free to believe whatever they want, and society is free to disallow its pot from being poisoned.

Good thing I was a chef.

It really worked out perfectly.

The Daily Recounting 3/23/17

The vote’s not going their way, Enthusiasts, and Paul Ryan and the rest of those ferret-faced babyeaters will wait patiently in line to blame the White House on teevee and the would-be king from Queens is going to pull out his cell phone–actually, Bannon will probably hand it to him, giggling and burping all the while–and Trump is going to his standby: weaponized tweets.

(Although in his defense–and it pains me to defend anything about him–they worked up until very recently. As he said in a recent Time interview, “I’m President, and you’re not.” That is a true statement, in the sense that Jeffrey Dahmer telling people he was going to eat them was a true statement.)

So, in lieu of the usual Recounting, TotD presents Possible Topics Of The Post-Healthcare Vote Tweetstorm:

  • Paul Ryan. (“Cryin’ Ryan is a failure! Couldn’t repeal Obamacare now PEOPLE WILL DIE! Paul Ryan: murderer? #steveking4speaker”)
  • Ivanka. (“Fake News says very smart Ivanka doesn’t deserve WH office. I AM PRESIDNET AND I DECIDE! Ivanka has a great office!”)
  • Congress. (“So-called Congress can’t pass bills! I will issue an EO repealing the terrible Obamacare very soon!”)
  • Obama. (“Muslim Ban judge met with Obama before terrible decision! Was there a payoff?”)
  • Canada. (“C2C w/Art Bell just reported Justin Trudeau ‘wiretapped’ Mar-A-Lago with the help of the Israelis. Sad and sick if true!”)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger. (“I’m PRESIDNET and he is not! I have informed the IRS to look into Arnold. Let’s see what we find!”)
  • Burger King. (“Fries taste different! Change fries back or I will hold campaign rallies at McDonald’s!”)
  • Rosie O’Donnell. (“People think I have forgotten about Disgusting Rosie BUT I HAVE NOT. Still very fat and no career.”)
  • Paul Manafort. (“Fake News CNN keeps saying I knew Paul Manafort. I have never met Paul Manafort. Such dishonesty!”)
  • Freedom Caucus. (“Freedom Caucus wants to destroy America! Are they traitors? I am going to tapp their offices!”)
  • London. (“London elects Muslim mayor, then there’s a terror attack? Just common sense!”)

An Open Letter To A Dude In 1979

Dear Dude On The Dusborne Matrix Of 11/30/79 During Drums.

Stop yelling “sit down.” You are more annoying to me than the people standing up are to you. Stop that right now in 1979.

Thoughts on the Dead

p.s. Great show, and besides for the bros being all bro about things, it is a treat for two reasons. First of all: the Dead perform their music well. (Sometimes they did not, so this fact should be mentioned. The Dead always meant to play well–I’m not accusing them of malfeasance–but once in a while, they did not achieve strong bone. It happens. Stanley Theater in ’79? Strong bone.) Second: the first set’s the first set, no real weirdness, but then the second set is the most front-loaded one I’ve ever seen.

Look at this bullshit:

Set 2:
Scarlet Begonias
Fire On The Mountain
Terrapin Station
Playin’ In The Band
Lost Sailor
Saint Of Circumstance
Wharf Rat
Good Lovin’

That is a top-heavy list; if it wasn’t buttressed within the pull quote, it would topple.

Whatever: go listen to the Grateful Dead; turn it up loud, too.

The Team-Up No One Saw Coming

“Putin have confession, Valrus Jesus.”

“Yes, my son?”

“Am on bit of murder bender. Is getting out of control.”

“How many people have you murdered, my son?”


“Let’s start there.”

“Two? Three. Da, three.”

“This is not good, my–”

“Four. Forgot one. Minor enemy. Putin have him thrown onto helicopter.”

“You mean out of a helicopter.”

“Nyet. Onto rotor.”


“Running out of vays to kill political opponents. Do valrus eat people?”

“Even if walruses did–and we don’t–I am Walrus Jesus.”

“Putin just asking.”

“Putin is pushing it. Wanna toss me some clams and mollusks?”

“Oooooh, that’s good bivalve!”

“You want something else? Putin get vhatever you vant.”

“I’m on a pretty strict diet.”

“You do nyet need to lose veight.”

“Oh, not that. I’m not really an omnivore. Pretty much set up to only eat one thing.”

“Da. Forgive me now, Valrus Jesus.”

“Do you repent of your sins?”

“Da, sure, vhy not?”

“I heard a real insincere tone there.”

“Nyet, nyet. Putin very sorry. Shame on Putin. Cry now. Boo hoo, boo hoo.”

“You’re just saying ‘boo hoo.'”

“Forgive me, Valrus Jesus.”

“You’re squeezing my flipper very hard.”

“Forgive me now please, Valrus Jesus.”

“I forgive you!”

“Spaceeba. I come back tomorrow. You forgive me for more murders. Big ones coming up.”

“Oh, um, I was planning on going back out to sea.”

“Nyet. You are Putin’s guest. Is nice here. You stay.”

“What!? I’m calling my lawyer?”

“Da? Okay, sure. Excuse Putin.”

“Putin need you to assassinate Walrus Jesus, Mischka.”

“I told you I’m retired.”

“Vun last job.”

What Can Be Accomplished In Less Than Seven Years?

  • Nine non-twin babies, which is an entire baseball team as long as you’re in a National League city.
  • Circumnavigating the world in a wooden sailboat with 16th century maps and technology. (Twice, with ten months left over.)
  • Construction of the Twin Towers AND the Freedom Tower. (Just barely.)
  • Ulysses.
  • You can put a man on the moon in seven years: JFK told the crowd at Rice University that we chose to go to the moon in September of ’62, and Neil Armstrong told the world that the Eagle had landed in July of ’69.
  • Given seven years of study, a human of reasonable intelligence could become an expert in virtually any field.
  • A French guy named Michel Lotito could eat three-and-a-half Cessna 150 airplanes.
  • Assuming you didn’t get eaten, you could swim from San Francisco to Tokyo and back eight times.
  • Witness the birth and death of 2,557 generations of fruit flies. (Hopefully, there would be some sort of science involved and you’re not just sitting there watching fruit flies fuck and die like some sort of weirdo.)
  • The creation of a capital city of a major country. (Brasilia. It was a planned city, and it took four years to build. 2.7 million people live there.)

Or, you know: you could come up with a replacement health care plan.

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