Thoughts On The Dead

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

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March Madness Without Research

  • I know I usually cheat a little on the tenets of Without Research, but I promise not to this time, mostly because I sincerely don’t give a shit.
  • It is a basketball tournament, but LeBron is not in it.
  • Florida is (was?) in it, and number 11 on that team is a young man named Josh Jackson who has an immense upswoop of afro; he looks like Huey from The Boondocks.
  • Brother on the Dead went to U of F, so I root for the Gators when it comes to college sports.
  • My alma mater did not have sports, unless you count experimenting with heroin and homosexuality a sport.
  • So I just root for BotD’s school, and I noticed Josh Jackson on the teevee; I was like “Yay, Josh Jackson,” and then I saw something about him the internet and I think he may have shit on the hood of a woman’s Kia.
  • I have remained a fan of people who have done far, far worse things than that.
  • First there are 64 teams.
  • Then, 32.
  • After that is the Sweet Sixteen.
  • I think they want us to call this round the “Elite Eight” but that’s just horrible.
  • Finally, four.
  • The NCAA tournament is a reverse logarithm, if you think about it.
  • Did Bill Walton win it?
  • I’m going to assume that Bill Walton won it.
  • Duke.
  • Wow, am I not even going to attempt the coach’s name Without Research.
  • You know who I’m talking about.
  • University of North Carolina.
  • They are the Tar Heels, but I think they’re also a goat.
  • Xavier and Gonzaga.
  • Every fucking year with Xavier and Gonzaga, and I have absolutely no idea where either of them is.
  • I mean to look it up every year, but then I don’t because I just don’t care.
  • I do know that “Xavier” is not pronounced like Professor Charles Xavier, but like Xavier Cugat.
  • The X makes a Z sound.
  • Which is silly: just be Zavier, Xavier.
  • Stop confusing comic book fans.
  • There are seedings, and sometimes teams can be overseeded or underseeded, even though neither of those words are words.
  • A team will be deemed the Cinderella Story.
  • College basketball is broken into geographical groupings called “families;” and coaches have to swear a blood oath, or omerta, to the family and regularly kick up cash and teenagers’ knees.
  • I have been informed I am sort of talking about the mafia; I apologize for the mix-up.
  • There’s the SEC, which is in the South, and the ACC, which is not.
  • And the Conference of Champions, which is in the West.
  • (The conference probably isn’t actually called that, but I don’t know the real name of it and that’s what Bill Walton calls it.)
  • Is there a Big 10 for basketball, or is that just a football thing?
  • The tournament takes the best teams from each conference and pits them against each other in gentlemanly, amateur competition until we know who the victor is; sport at its purest.
  • Nah, just shittin’ ya: the whole shebang is just a reason to gamble.
  • You fill out your brackets, which are decision trees made up of the dreams of teenagers, and then you got yourself a one-in-a-quadrillion shot of getting it right.
  • Wait, I was wrong: one-in-14-quadrillion.
  • (Yeah, I cheated. I don’t care about the basketball, but the corruption and money are interesting.)
  • $10 billion every year, and here’s the fun part: only a quarter or so of that goes to American bookmakers; the rest leaves the country via the internet, and I’m positive that it only goes to the nicest people.
  • Obama used to love the tournament, and he would do a spot on ESPN every year about his bracket and what he thought of the teams.
  • He was witty and charming, and he could tell a joke or take one.
  • When they asked Trump to fill out a bracket, Kellyanne Conway stepped in front of the president, and then her face split open lengthwise and cancer flew out, and tuberculosis, too; all the pestilence of earth, foul and roaming, and Kellyanne shrieked Bii-YAAAAAALLL and the ESPN reporter was never seen again.
  • If you stop dribbling the ball, you cannot start dribbling it again or the ref will call you for a double-dribble, which is the least-imaginatively named penalty in sports.
  • (High-sticking is pretty on-the-nose, too, now that I think about it. TotD prefers that fouls be described more abstractly. “Icing.” That could mean, like, anything. Everyone’s on the ice at all times. “Balk” is a good one. Balk is an obscure verb, and it gets bonus points for being awkward to say.)
  • Is there a Final Four for Quidditch?
  • Fuck, I hope not.
  • You know people play Quidditch, right?
  • I despise these screeds from the pasty patsies at the Times (that useless Frank Bruni did one this weekend) about “the terrible state of our students.”
  • The kids are all right.
  • They got a reason to be pissed.
  • But when I see those little shits waddling around on broomsticks pretending to be wizards and shouting dog Latin at each other, I want to get the Time Sheath and have President Nixon call in the National Guard to their campuses.
  • Stop playing Quidditch, children.
  • If you want people to know you’re from the suburbs, then go buy yourself a frisbee and start an Ultimate team.
  • Do not Quidditch, children; we will not defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism that way.

A Newly-Surfaced Photograph From 5/8/77

The band posed for this shot in the hallway outside the dressing rooms; I don’t know where Mrs. Donna Jean is.

Kindnesses You Will Assuredly Regret

  • Helping the guy with the broken arm get a couch into his van.
  • Nursing a scorpion back to health.
  • Co-signing a lease for your just-out-of-rehab cousin.
  • Helping the person next to you on the plane with their oxygen mask before securely fastening yours.
  • Letting the door-to-door encyclopedia salesman into the house, mostly because there are no more door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, and it’s probably the serial killer with the van from the first bullet point.

#NOTMYWALL

  • Better than China’s.
  • WiFi, but just on the U.S. side.
  • Maybe a big mural of Trump and Jesus and a gun and Jesus again.
  • Difficult to phase or teleport through, in case there is a team of Mexican X-Men. (Bad X-Hombres!)
  • Should not topple over if leaned against by fat guy, even if he is very fat.
  • Alligators taped to Mexican side.
  • So thick that Sir Mix-A-Lot would hit that shit.
  • Embedded invisible fence within wall, and we put shock collars on all the Mexicans and also we make the Mexicans pay for their own shock collars.
  • Really, really, really mean dogs everywhere.
  • Every third sentry tower has a pitching machine cranked up to 90 mph hooked up a Raspberry Pi with pattern recognition software, and if you’re shaped like a Mexican then you get a fastball to the face.
  • Put the whole thing on wheels so we can move it a couple feet south every night; in a few years, we’ll be halfway to Durango.
  • Moat made out of:
    • Lava.
    • Used hypodermic needles.
    • All the shit from the alligators we taped to the Mexican side.
    • Boiling oil. (Estimated cost of keeping a a 2,000 mile-long, 20’x10′ river of oil at 400 degrees: all-the-money-in-the-world a month.)
    • C.H.U.D.s

And You Will Be The Leader Of A Big Old Band

“Get off the seat, schmuck! Yes, you. The schmuck I’m pointing at. Why would you stand on my seats? I don’t come to your house and stand on your mother. Get down or I’m gonna find out where you live and jump up and down on your mother’s chest like a gorilla, I swear to God. You stand on my seats? How DARE you! After all that Bill Graham does for the community, for the fans, for this rock and roll music that we all love so much, you stand on my seats?

“Better. Okay, we got some announcements before the J. Geils Band comes on. They’re just great, very high-energy, fantastic look, you’re gonna love ’em. Tee-shirts are available in the lobby. Next week we’ll be featuring Iron Butterfly, and maybe they’ll be better than last time. Nice guys, terrible band. Boom boom boom, who gives a shit? Music to take ‘ludes to. We put on the acts the kids want, so they’ll play here, but they’re just snooze time for me, y’know?

“Now, Chuck Berry? That’s the other end of the spectrum. Musically? The best, no peer, you can’t touch him. He’s Chuck Berry, y’know? Without him, you’re still playing jazz. In my opinion? The King. Forget Elvis, that pinky-dicked hillbilly. You got Little Richard, and you got Jerry Lee, but above all of them is Chuck. Top of the pyramid.

“And the biggest pain in the ass you’re ever gonna meet. We’ve presented him a number of times, starting back in ’67. I always asked the acts, ‘Who do you wanna see?’ and they always said the same thing. ‘Naked girls.’ And then I would say, ‘No, putz. Musically! Musically!’ And always the same answer: Chuck Berry. Fine, so I’m gonna book Chuck Berry.

“No manager. No agent, booking guy, whatever. You gotta call Chuck direct. I get his number.

“‘Chuck, this is Bill Graham. I’m a promoter in San Francisco blah blah blah.’ I give him the whole sales pitch and he says,

“‘How much?’

“I tell him $600. This is ’67. That’s good money for a show.

“Silence.

“I say ‘$700.’

“Nothing. Don’t even hear him breathing.

“I say ‘$800’ and Chuck says,

“‘What night?’

“I tell him the night, and he goes,

“‘I need a band, a Cadillac, and three white women.’ and hangs up the phone.

“Shit, I can do that. First, I need a band to back up the great Chuck Berry. I was gonna call the Dead, but they didn’t even know their own songs at that point, and I was pretty sure they would scare the shit out of Chuck. I booked them to open, anyway. Then, I called the Jefferson Airplane but I got in a screaming match with Paul Kantner and I told him to go fuck himself. I tried the Flaming Groovies, but they were booked that night.

“Finally, I called up Stevie Miller. He was always around, and he would work cheap. I gave him the whole shpiel, what an honor it was to back up Chuck, rock and roll legend, yadda yadda. Pretty little putz bought it hook, line, and sinker. Got a band for $20 and a couple cases of beer. They’re gonna learn all the songs, wonderful.

“Afternoon of the show, I send the white women to the airport in Chuck’s Cadillac. Couple hours go by. No Chuck. I call the airline. Plane landed, no problem. But no Chuck. I’m shvitzing here.

“‘Play longer,’ I tell the Dead. They were fine with that. Instead of playing the songs for twenty minutes, they played them for a half-hour. They’re real pros.

“Finally–finally!–here comes Chuck up Post Street in the Cadillac with the three white women, two of whom are dead.

“Chuck! Did you kill the white women?’ I yelled at him.

“Chuck gets out of the Cadillac, he’s carrying his guitar case. No luggage, nothing. Just him and his guitar and a Cadillac and three white women, two of whom are dead. Says nothing, just holds out his hand. I give him the check. Chuck looks at the check, back at me, at the check. Opens up his hand and the check drops to the ground. Gets back in the Cadillac, stares straight ahead. Says one word.

“‘Cash.’

“It’s ten o’clock at night in a bad neighborhood in 1967. Where am I gonna get a thousand dollars from? I run back into Winterland. I gotta go by the stage, and Phil Lesh yells at me as I pass that they’re running out of material. I make a mental note to scream at him in Yiddish later, but first I gotta get a thousand bucks in cash.

“I got two hundred, something like that, so I shake down everyone who works for me. I give ’em IOU’s. Forty bucks from him, twelve dollars from her, whatever. It’s not enough! What am I gonna do? Fuck it: I go into the crowd and start looking for people I know.

“‘Hey, Bill.’

“‘Hey, yourself,’ I tell ’em. ‘Gimme all your cash; I’ll pay you back.’

“Bill Graham invented crowdfunding!”

“It takes an hour, but I get the money. At this point, the Dead are completely out of material, and have been playing a 12-bar blues for 25 minutes. I go outside and Chuck is still sitting there in the Cadillac staring straight ahead. All of the white women are now dead. I count out the money into Chuck’s hand, every dollar. When I get to a thousand, Chuck lights up. Biggest shit-eating grin you’ve ever seen.

“‘Let’s do this, Bill,’ he says.

“We go inside, he doesn’t even say hi to the Stevie Miller Band, just tells them the key of the first song and boom right into it. The kids went nuts, y’know? Chuck Berry. That’s rock and roll right there, no matter the hassle. We disposed of the three dead white women and cleaned out the Cadillac, and next time Chuck played our venue, we made sure that there was cash on hand.

“Interesting post-script: the Dead dosed Chuck around a dozen times, and the cops found him naked on Embarcadero at dawn.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, the J. Geils Band.”

On The Morality Of Dosing Trump

It should be noted that the following dialogue is both hypothetical and satirical in nature.

Should Trump be dosed?

No.

Well, that settles it.

It does.

It doesn’t. Defend your position.

I will argue first the categorical imperative, and then the historiochemical precedent.

Ooh. Calling your shots like Babe Ruth.

This ain’t my first rodeo.

Proceed.

Before I begin my arguments, I will first note that you shouldn’t do it because it’s, like, 100 years in federal prison.

So noted for the record.

The categorical: dosing people is wrong. It’s putting something in someone without their consent. It’s chemical rape.

But he sucks so bad.

Totally with you there, but a good deal of the reason for his suckiness is that he does stuff to people without their consent. This is a “two wrongs don’t make a right” situation.

Is there any situation in which dosing someone is acceptable?

Not a priori. The dosee can forgive the doser afterwards, but there’s never a time when it’s a moral act in and of itself.

What if you’ve got a bunch of friends who like dosing each other?

Then there’s an ongoing implied consent, and that would be fine. The group dosing strangers, however, would still be immoral.

What if a Grateful Dead doses you?

Like, Phil slips something in your grilled cheese at TXR?

Yeah.

Okay, there’s like one exception.

That would be awesome.

Totally.

But, Jesus: wouldn’t a little acid help? Couple thousand micrograms to shoot the evil out of the fucker?

And now we come to the second argument, which is historiochemical in nature.

Did you make that word up?

Obviously, but it’s self-explanatory. This whole “dose Trump” nonsense is based upon an unbelievably shaky premise: LSD turns people good.

That’s a bit glib.

Is it? Someone’s gonna give the Turnip a great wallop of tie-dye juice, and the next morning he’s gonna be in sandals converting us to solar energy?

A little.

Right. You know who took a shitload of acid?

I have a feeling your example is not going to be a kind and loving man.

He was a family man.

Manson?

Manson. Know who else?

Who?

Steve fucking Bannon. People want to dose the nasty fatso to make him compassionate? Well, the nasty fatso sitting right next to him ate as much acid as the next Deadhead, and he’s a literal monster. Nothing about this idea makes any sense.

It would be fun to watch, though.

It would be the Pay-Per-View event of the century. Still not right.

Aw.

Sorry, buddy.

Fire Woman

May I have a marshmallow?

“They’re not marshmallows.”

I know. My question was unrelated to your flaming Wolverine-hands.

“You know what marshmallows are made of?”

Tastiness?

“Horse hooves and colonialism.”

Will you cook my hot dog?

“No.”

Will you cook my tofu dog?

“Yes.”

What is the current delusion of the masses?

“Dynamism.”

Explain.

“The lie of productivity; the trap of the work ethic; the preservative of progress. Suckers think they always gotta be doing something.”

Suckers?

“The rats, the sheep, the easily-cowed, the busy beavers, the workhorses.”

A motley menagerie.

“And not enough cages.”

But is man not meant to be free?

“Meant, shmeant. Judge man by his actions. He chooses stability and security over freedom.”

Freedom includes the freedom to choose stability and security.

“You’re talking in circles.”

The world is round. What color are your eyes?

“Pet fish at a rich person’s house.”

Good color.

“It’s the Cadillac of eye colors.”

You ever burn your house down?

“Couple times.”

Hot.

“I see what you did. This is the part where you ask me if I have a boyfriend.”

Yeah, I don’t know why we’re doing this bit again, either.

“GET AWAY FROM MY LADY! SHE ONLY GOES OUT WITH MOOSE!”

You’re not a moose. You’re a passed-out hippie in a deer mask.

“DON’T ASSUME MY SPECIES!”

Bringing this bit back was a mistake.

Questions For The Seller Of This Couch, Supposedly Belonging To Bob Weir

  • What the fuck? (That’s the main question, I suppose; all subsequent questions are truly just sub-iterations of “What the fuck?”)
  • Did you forget a word, or did the couch own Bobby?
  • Is the couch sentient?
  • And a slave-owner?
  • Are you trying to sell a sentient, slave-owning couch on Ebay?
  • Is this really how we’re using the internet?
  • Assuming that you forgot the word”by,” is this really Bobby’s couch?
  • Is there a provenance?
  • You think I haven’t seen the ol’ “Rock Star used to own this couch” scam before?
  • Think you’re dealing with fucking children here, buddy?
  • If it is Bobby’s couch, was this the couch that Bobby’s wife, Natasha Monster, gave birth to their children on? (That ridiculous behemoth of a sofa actually is large enough to give birth on. You could even have twins.)
  • Is there a possibility that some of Bobby’s change is still in the cushions?
  • Has it been cleaned?
  • Thoroughly?
  • Waved a black light over the sucker?
  • How much of Bobby’s DNA would you estimate is trapped within the fibers of this couch?
  • Could we clone Bobby?
  • Would Clone Bobby have a beard?
  • Has this couch always been in this room?
  • Did you really make this decorating choice?
  • Was the choice between selling the couch or selling all the other furniture in the room?
  • If it’s always been like this, why are you selling it now?
  • Are you getting married and your wife is making you sell it? (This is the only conclusion I can come to.)

And finally:

  • Excellent condition?
  • Excellent condition?
  • Really?
  • Reeeeeeally?
  • Excellent?

An Origin Story

STARDATE: 5011.23

LOCATION: A backyard on Felicidae V, Suburb-World of the Felis Empire.

“I’m just saying that it’s only been four blarnoks since they rebooted it the last time.”

“But that one sucked! This one’ll be better.”

“Oh, it’s gonna be the same thing. He gets bitten by a radioactive plarf and becomes Plarf-Man–”

“With the proportional speed and strength of a plarf.”

“–and then his Mingle Ben gets eaten by a romfle and he’s a super-hero. Same story every time.”

KUHH-FWOOOOOOM-SPLOSH!

“Dude, a spaceship just landed in your pool.”

“I saw.”

“Just saying.”

“Yeah, okay, but I’m standing right here. Obviously I saw the spaceship land in my pool. It was like you were narrating the action.”

“Can we just go check out the alien ship?”

“I got all nine eyes on you.”

“Wonderful.”

“V’ger? Holy shit, dude: this is from the humans!”

“The monkeys on teevee?”

“Yeah.”

“They’re morons. They don’t even know we’re monitoring them. They live in huts and die when it gets too cold.”

“Right, but they used to be more advanced. I thought you liked the show.”

“Dude, Humping, Hitting Humans is my jam. You know that.”

“All they do is hump and hit each other.”

“That’s why I like it. Life is complicated; I like my teevee to be stupid.”

“Okay, so you should know their history. Didn’t you even look up Earth on Space-Wikipedia?”

“Why would we call it that?”

“Stop changing the subject. Humans had rockets and computers and medicine a long time ago. They must have sent this doohickey up while they could.”

“Wow. What happened to their society?”

“No one knows. Something or someone started an inexorable decline towards savagery and backwards progress.”

“Huh. What’s that round thing?”

“Looks like a record.”

“What a lucky coincidence that our society, too, uses LP technology.”

“One-in-a-million shot.”

“I’m glad they sent vinyl. Such a warmer, more authentic sound.”

“Really?”

“Dude, if you’re not listening to an alien civilization on vinyl, then you don’t know what it really sounds like.”

“Just play the thing.”

“My Space Modulator is out of power.

“Should’ve bought the Imodium Q36.”

“All my other stuff is from Weyland-Yutani. I’m locked in.”

“Here.”

Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode
Who never ever learned to read or write so well
But he could play the guitar just like a ringing a bell

Go, go
Go Johnny go, go
Go Johnny go, go
Go Johnny go, go
Go Johnny go, go
Johnny B. Goode

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Go sit beneath the tree by the railroad track
Oh, the engineers would see him sitting in the shade
Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made
People passing by they would stop and say
Oh my that little country boy could play

Go, go
Go Johnny go, go
Go Johnny go, go
Go Johnny go, go
Go Johnny go, go
Johnny B. Goode

His mother told him “Someday you will be a man
And you will be the leader of a big old band
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying ‘Johnny B. Goode Tonight'”

Go, go
Go Johnny go
Go go go, Johnny go
Oh go go, Johnny go
Oh go go, Johnny go
Go, Johnny B. Goode.

We’re A Rock And Roll Band, Ma’am; We Play Rock And Roll Music

It wasn’t a Dead show without a Chuck Berry song, even if they didn’t play one.

  • Around and Around.
  • Johnny B. Goode.
  • Let It Rock. (Dead did it once; Jerry Band played it more than once.)
  • One More Saturday Night.*
  • Promised Land.
  • Run Rudolph Run. (Pig sang it in December of ’71.)
  • U.S. Blues.*

*I know Chuck technically didn’t write U.S. Blues and OMSN, but they are Chuck Berry songs.

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