Thoughts On The Dead

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



John Mayer has brought a lot to the Dead: new fans, and new energy, and he’s also brought Fashion Dipshits. TotD, you say: “Dipshits” is too harsh.

And what about Mayer’s on-stage fit—featuring vintage L.L. Bean and Off-White Nikes—which Mordechai got to photograph before the final show? “The vintage L.L. Bean anorak was the most genius thing to wear on the beach at night—it was genius. After the first few songs, he tied it around his waist. And the running shorts! I always say there’s a special caliber of musician who plays in shorts.”

Apologize to me, Enthusiasts. Apologize for doubting my ability to choose words. That’s a guy named Mordechai Rubenstein, who has a trust fund and an Instagram account, and took pictures of brightly-frocked older gentlemen in Mexico recently. He takes pictures of strangers wearing clothes, and that is a job. Vice magazine used to do that, too, but in Mordechai’s defense: he is not ironically racist in his captions. Good for you, Mortadella.


Speaking of pictures, in 1980, a Welsh journalist named Paula Yates produced a book entitled Rock Stars in their Underpants. The title was not euphemistic. The volume contains Rock Stars you might wish to see in their skivvies (Bowie, Debbie Harry, David Lee Roth) and also Elton John.

And Lemmy.

The shot begs the question: Did ever there exist a group of assholes that Lemmy didn’t love?


This is a video of the Dead’s crew setting up Englishtown. It’s exactly as interesting as I made it sound.


Punching Nazis is a proud American tradition, and especially a Jewish-American tradition. Jews used to be a lot less respectable; used to carry knives and blackjacks, and have nicknames like Ice Pick Willie, and Kid Twist, and Longy. They were gangsters. They used to find out where the Bund meetings were being held, and they would infringe the shit out of the Nazis’ freedom of speech.

Some things about the old days were all right.


Candace Brightman is going blind, and the Grateful Dead is turning a blind eye. I mean, they were sweet enough to ask you to pay for it, but no one at Front Street is digging into his pocket. Candace has something called Age-related Macular Degeneration. No cure, but there’s treatment, and Candace is getting the best treatment available, not some screwy-louie bullshit involving “voltage therapy.”

Surely, we’re not sending Candace to a quack.

Real doctors go on Coast to Coast with George Noory all the time, right?


The big finish! The 92nd Street Y put this together, and it stars a heck of a lot of FoTotDs talking about the Dead and their relationship with New York City.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, Enthusiasts: New Yorkers are the most provincial human beings on the planet. They will claim anyone who even briefly stopped in town as a favorite son, and–if you don’t stop them–will inevitably begin talking about “the energy of the streets.” If you bring up WWII, they will discuss the Navy Yards; if the topic is the Space Race, they will recall the ticker-tape parades for the astronauts; if you are a professor of Genghis Khanology, they will rave about a Mongolian place they ate at.

(Plus, due to the number of times the Dead played NYC, their batting average is shit for the location. If you don’t count the shows after ’88, the band had a far better great show-to-middling show ratio in Atlanta.)


  1. yeah, but if you do count those 1990 MSG shows … six for six (IMO).

  2. Luther Von Baconson

    February 22, 2018 at 11:06 am

    “we shoulda never let Billy power up the High Lift”

  3. Dude whips out his D and waggles it at the camera within the first 5 minutes of minutes of that Englishtown video. Peak Grateful Dead Crewness right there.

  4. Hm…who doesn’t love the feeling of aardvark fur against your light blue ladies panties in the morning?

  5. We had a fly by night operation in Ohio that would set up stages before shows.

    I think I got paid $100 for a full day setting up scaffolding for Grateful Dead Buckeye Lake, probably 1989.

    Some folks dangerously and probably uninsured and unexperienced put together scaffolding at great heights. I uncoiled cables and that is all I remember about the actual physical work. I think there was more than a little hurry up and wait.

    We got paid in cash, signed a waiver that we were private contractors, all that bullshit.

    Nothing against the Dead, they just hired some help as best they could. I got the feeling that they thought the fly-by-night operation was shady and unprofessional by their standards, but they had a stage to put up. Recall 1989-90 era stage it was quite a setup, perhaps the bear-cage giant arch?

    The only crew from the dead’s side I remember was some guy with a “tigger tattoo” I think it was on his leg, Tigger from winnie the pooh. I think he had an accent? British or Australian, he was a great guy, good energy, no bullshit.

    I learned to coil a cable so it would not twist.

    Another guy who worked with us talked to the crew a bit more. He related that they referred to the fans as lemmings, go lemmings.

    • this leads me to believe that the dead would have maybe been doing the same sort of “contracting” during the tour from hell in ’95.

  6. Terrific link to the Meyer Lansky story which then led to some other good links.

  7. Luther Von Baconson

    February 23, 2018 at 11:58 am

    NYC is kinda like the neighbour down the street invites you in and holds you hostage, tells you everything about them, shows you all their stuff until you end up exhausted and panicky and make a lame excuse (for which you feel guilty, and they know you lied and feel guilty) to leave. right guy, wrong day.

    • Mean, Green, Devil Eating Machine

      February 23, 2018 at 1:32 pm

      NYC is kinda like the neighbour down the street who looks like he is gonna kick your FA just for you being alive, and then you somehow bump in to him, and next thing you know, you are sitting in the stoop with him, having a beer, in a paper bag, tawkin’ about the Mets.

  8. I wish there was a new post, because I am about to read less interesting stuff, and probably get sucked into a bad news reading blitz. Oh wait? Is there a stream tonight?

  9. ToTD,

    There are plenty of tickets for Orlando on Cash or Trade, some significantly below face value..

    Also plenty on StubHub the scalpers are starting to drop.

    Not to mention TicketMaster still has seats.

    No we will not send you a chariot, but we can hit the donate button till you go.

    We will buy you crepe paper roses to stick on your Ford, and pay for a car wash.

    Here is a seat for $75

    This guy will probably take 50%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.