Thoughts On The Dead

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

Shadowboxing With The Apocalypse Now

bobby santana bill graham

“This is a big show? Weir, you don’t know from big, you little goyische putz. Bill Graham has put on the biggest shows on the planet! If there was a room to book, and a backroom to run, and a take to skim, then Bill Graham had his shmeckle in the pie. I turned down Woodstock because it was small potatoes, and then I did Watkins Glen with only three bands and everyone paid to get in, which is much better. That festival in India where 170 million people show up? Bill Graham consults.

“But Manila was the big one. The great film director Francis Ford Coppola had cast me in Apocalypse Now, which I found to be a bore. First of all, fuck The Doors. You know that little asshole Morrison used to piss on things? Like a puma. He’d show up, go to the dressing room, piss on the couch. Never seen anything like it. And that keyboardist, the twerp. Would follow Morrison around like an apostle. He would tell me “Jim’s a poet. Jim’s a poet.” Well, the poet just pissed on the carpet again. Bullshit band.

“We’re there forever. It’s a million degrees, and a million miles from home. You ever have Filipino food? It’s great. You ever have Filipino food every day? Not so great. After a while, it’s enough already. The great film director Francis Ford Coppola is losing his mind. Martin Sheen has a heart attack. Two of the Playboy Playmates disappeared into the jungle, never to be ogled again. There was a monsoon. And a typhoon. And a cyclone. There was a hurricane, which is impossible in that hemisphere.

“Enter Brando. He was eight hundred pound of crazy in a four hundred pound sack, and spent his days not learning his lines and fucking with everyone. When Sheen came back from his heart attack, Brando would sneak up behind him and yell “Boo!” So Sheen would turn around and tell him to quit it, and Brando would punch him in the chest, hard. Which was over the line, but this is the great Marlon Brando we’re talking about here. If part of his process was assaulting cardiac patients, then so be it. Movies are about movie stars.

“Morale is low. The great director Francis Ford Coppola refuses to wear a shirt, and it’s man-titty city. Playmates keep getting eaten by tigers, everyone in this country needs to be bribed for everything, and Larry Fishburne has sunk three gunboats. There is one pay phone within a hundred miles, and you gotta win a knife fight to use it. Brando calls for me. Anybody else? Kiss my ass, you come here. Brando? I’ll shlep.

“Great big place, Buddhas everywhere. Go in the courtyard, and there’s two Buddhas on either side, ten feet tall. Sitting in the middle of the courtyard with his back to me: Brando. He’s got his head shaved, he’s wearing robes: it’s like there’s three Buddhas. He motions me to come around, and when I do, I see that he’s got one of the Playmates giving him a shlorp. And Brando goes, ‘You want a shlorp?’ I say no. ‘It’s good shlorp,’ he says, and I get to the point and ask the great Marlon Brando why I’m there.

“And he says, ‘I don’t know, Bill? Why are you here?’ And Hopper will fall for his bullshit, but I fled the Nazis, so fuck this fat asshole dragging me out to his house to watch him get shlorped. I let him have it: I’m yelling and screaming in two or three languages and Brando finally lumbers to his feet and he’s just ‘Bill.’ That’s all he said, ‘Bill.’ Like ‘Okay, I know who you are now.’ Just ‘Bill.’ I loved that.

“Not a total asshole after all, just bored. Paid for the Doobie Brothers and Tower of Power to come over and play a show. It was great: whole cast showed up, Sheen died for ten minutes. We opened it to the public, and I did well on the concessions. We sold a lotta fish balls. Turns out Filipinos don’t buy t-shirts at concerts, but I had some printed up anyway so I could give one to the great director Francis Ford Coppola. The show was a success, and Tower of Power made some very groovy sounds and brought people together and no one got eaten by tigers. While I was shooting the film, my marriage fell apart.”

“Bill, I asked how the crowd was.”

“Stoned and plentiful. Same as always.”

“All you had to say.”


  1. The Capitol has the 3 roll toilet paper despencers Bill Graham invented for Shoreline.

  2. “Hearts of Darkness” does “Apocalypse Now” better than “Apocalypse Now” does “Apocalypse Now.”

  3. Man Titty City……….

  4. well done good sir

  5. Luther Von Baconson

    May 29, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Flash Cadillac Suzie Q

  6. NoThoughtsOnDead

    May 29, 2016 at 10:45 am

    If you can be coaxed away from Fillmore South to Baghdad-by-the-Bay, the Bill Graham exhibition is worth four hours and $12 admission, for anyone who cares about him in the slightest. I went last Thursday and it was enthralling. Sorry to have missed it at the Skirball, but seeing it in S.F. was… astonishing: these things really happened (and there was at least one photo, “The Toast,” where I-was-there).

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