Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: 1970 (page 1 of 7)

I Said “No Pictures”

This is in Toronto, during the shit-dumb Festival Express that bankrupted a few hippies, enriched a few liquor store owners, and excreted a half-decent movie worth it if only for the scene of an unfathomably drunk-and-stoned Rick Danko, Marmaduke Dawson, Janis Joplin, and Garcia and Bobby wobbily circling through No More Cane on the Brazos. You’ve seen it, or you haven’t.

There. Now you have.

Anyway, this was 1970–long before the invention of security–and that doofus with the Nikon must have gotten up into Garcia’s face, unleashing the rarest Garcia of all: Scary Bear.

Legend has it that Garcia mauled and devoured the photog, but you can’t trust John Legend.

Ready, Set-Up, Go




“Which part?”

All of it.

“Drummers wanted to be up front.”

Why did you let them?

“Why would I care? They wanna set up in the bathroom, I’ll set ’em up in the bathroom.”

What about Phil?

“What about him?”

Why is he all the way in the back?

“He was feeling anti-social today.”

Sure. Precarious?


Is there any security at all?

“Now there is. Shitloads of it.”

What about in 1970 when the picture was taken?

“Yeah, no. No security at all. Concept didn’t exist. You hoped that the kids were too fucked up to riot, and the road crew punched stagehoppers. That was it.”

The good old days.

“The old days.”

It’s A Set-Up

We are told that the triangle is the strongest shape found in nature, but triangles do not occur in nature. Lot of shit’s triangular–mountains are pretty trianglescent, for example–but no actual triangles. Spheres? Circles? Absolutely. Bees’ll do ya up a nice hexagon. But triangles? Nah.

And certainly not hairy rhombi, which is the configuration the Dead have assembled into here. The Mickey-Bobby and Phil-Billy-Garcia (hereafter known as MB and PKG) line segments are parallel and share a slope of +1 (roughly).  The rhombus is an inherently unstable shape, which is why the Egyptians did not entomb their kings in them. (Also, Ptolemy hated rhombuses. “Your name being spelled wrong is my thing,” the pharaoh would often say, to which his courtiers did not respond, as the joke only works in modern-day English.)

Which brings me to my thesis: the Grateful Dead did shit wrong.

Is that your thesis or an overarching theme?



Look at them. I mean, just look at them. Everyone is entirely off their kilter; perhaps no one had even been on their kilter at all that day. Besides the asymmetry–which would be bettered if Pig were in the shot–it’s the bocce court in between Mickey and Billy that’s the beauty bit.

You see those monitors? They’re not monitors. They’re speakers shimmed into position with some stolen motel Bibles. Monitors are wedge-shaped so you don’t have to lean them against stuff to get them into the right position, and in 1970 they didn’t exist. So you propped up some PA speakers, plugged ’em into the board, and fiddled with knobs until they didn’t feedback. That was about it. And they were just for the vocals, really; you heard your guitar through the nine giant amplifiers stacked behind you.

So, if you wanted to hear the drummer, you had to stand right next to the drummer.

But the mic was all the way at the front of the stage, so Phil had to run up Drummer’s Alley every time he had to sing. (Do you think he waited til the last second and sprinted up dramatically like the big-time Rock Stars used to do? Or was it a casual mosey? It was a casual mosey, wasn’t it?)


Whatever their current relationship, Phil and Billy used to be Shirt Buddies, and that’s how I’ll continue thinking of them.

The Hogfather

What’s your favorite thing about Christmas, Pig?


Besides that.

“After that, I s’pose I like the music best. All them songs ’bout Christmas heroes and whatnot. I’m talkin’ ’bout Frosty and Rudolph, all them fellows. Big Red.”


“The ol’ Pig loves him some Santa. Me an’ him in the same business! Bringin’ joy to the children!”


“”Cept that fat man only works one day a year! I’m out on the damn road sweatin’ and makin’ it night after night!”

Well, in Santa’s defense, it takes a lot of prep work to get ready for that one day.

“I figure most o’ Santa’s time is taken up by elf management.”


“We tried to do one o’ them Secret Santa deals one year. Didn’t go good.”

What happened?

“The Grateful Dead was involved!”

That will throw a wrench in things.

“Weir didn’t understand th’ underlyin’ concept! He thought ‘Secret Santa’ was like a secret agent or somethin’! Started sneakin’ around in a trenchcoat and other various foolishnesses! Gave himself a code name!”

What was it?

“Felix Navidad.”

That’s a good Secret Santa name.

“I don’t got no hard feelings ‘gainst the name. It’s clever.”

What about the other guys?

“Drummers just took their dicks out! Garcia forgot! The endeavor was an immediate failure at every damn level!”

Sounds right.

“Can’t let nothin’ ruin your Christmas, though. Gotta go out and suck all that Christmas down quick as y’can! Only get so much of it, gotta grab it ‘fore it’s gone. Put that Christmas in the freezer, so’s you can take a little bit out when you need it in July or somethin’.”

You always make sense, Pig.

“I know!”

Crickets And Cicadas Sing A Rare And Looney Tune

“Whatchoo say, Bobert Weir!? Repeat that statement!”

“The coyote was gonna fuck the roadrunner.”

“Lesh, you hearin’ this!?”

“I’ve tried to explain it to him, Pig. Leave me out of it.”

“Dammit, Weir, the coyote is whatchoo call a carnivore! And a roadrunner is what a coyote might call lunch!”

“Be that as it may, I always saw a subtext.”

“Ain’t no subtext in a kiddy cartoon!”

“Wile E. is a boy, right?”

“I suppose.”

“And Roadrunner is a girl.”

“Roadrunner is a roadrunner! Where you gettin’ a female vibe?”

“The eyes. The legs. The adaptiveness.”

“You boys on that lightning juice tonight?”

“No, nuh-uh.”

“Be honest.”

“Cross my heart, Pig. I just, you know, think the coyote wanted to fuck the roadrunner. The eating was symbolic.”

“You’re thinkin’ of Pepe le Pew!”

“Him, too. All of ’em. Foghorn and the Bantamweight, Sheepdog and the Wolf, Bugs and Everybody. At the heart of each is a seduction story.”

“Stop talkin’ foolishness, Weir.”

“He’s right, Pig! All those cartoons were about fucking, man!”

“Garcia, you stay outta this!”

“When, uh, the coyote falls off the cliff? That’s an orgasm.”

“No, it ain’t!”

“That’s what ‘That’s all, folks’ really means, which actually has a double meaning. The first is: I just came. The second? Remove the comma and you have ‘That’s all folks.’ What’s made of folks? Semen. The double-meaning doubles back on itself. Chuck Jones was really playing the long game.”

“Weir, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m gonna go find me a fox.”

“Ooh, good idea. Grab me one.”

“The ol’ Pig’ll see what he c’n do.”


What are you doing?

“Don’t rightly know! Boys got me whackin’ at stuff again. Gave me these mallets, tol’ me, ‘You’ll know what to do.’ And I didn’t! So I been fakin’ it, but nobody’s givin’ me the hairy eyeball, so the ol’ Pig must be gettin’ by!”

Is that a guy or a girl behind you?

“Don’t rightly know that, either!”

Well, however they identify, tell them that haircut doesn’t work.


Speaking of which, is there a young lady sitting next to you during the damn show?


C’mon, Pig.

“C’mon nothin’! Only reason them drummer dogs ain’t got chicks on their laps is cuz they can’t work the bass drum pedals that way!”

Who is this girl?

“Name’s Denise! Met her tonight! She came with her friends and I spotted her in the parking lot. I said ‘Woman!’ That’s to get the fox’s attention, y’see.”


“And she said ‘Pig?’ And she said it real funny, so I laughed.”

Then what?

“Then I gave her my rap!”

You’re not gonna let us in on it?

“Why would I share my rap!? I do that, every hound in the country gonna be snakin’ my foxes! Get your own rap!”


“And now me and Denise have made it!”

Good for you. Pig?


Do I wanna ask what the name of the building she goes to during the day is?

“You do not!”


Let Pigpen Do A Number

Hey, Pig. Whatcha doing?

“Lettin’ the blues out!”

Lovely way to put it.

“An’ true! Ain’t no one sings the blues, plays the blues. Not no one who’s any damn good! They jes’ open up an’ let them blues out. But jes’ a little! Can’t let all your blues out at once. Y’might scare the payin’ customers that way!”

It would be too much to deal with.

“Backs would break! Spirits would suffer! Can’t be dealin’ with all them blues at the same time. Even the ol’ Pig can’t handle all them blues at once.”


“Hey, College Boy. Lemme ask you somethin’.”

Anything, Pig.

“What on earth is an Uma Thurman?”

She’s an actress.

“That lady is a long drink o’ water. Now you tell the ol’ Pig: who would go makin’ that fox so angry?”

85-90% of every man she’s ever met.

“They know she got a sword?”

That was a movie, Pig. Which came out 30 years after you died, so you need to stop using the Time Sheath to watch Netflix.

“All the ol’ Pig gotta do is sip his whiskey and let his blues out! Don’t you be puttin’ handcuffs on my teevee watchin’!”

Just keep it to yourself.

“Sounds like Uma wants everyone t’ keep it t’ themselves, too!”

It does sound like that.

“Women’d do a whole lot better if the world had less pigs and more Pigs!





What the fuck?



“We thought it provided an incongruously beautiful mise-en-scene.”


“Fucking with ya. I got no idea why we put that up.”

What are the monitors propped up on?

“Pizza boxes full of sand.”

It’s the Grateful Dead way.


I’m Gonna Sing A Song For You

This is the past. This is the era we are no longer in, the Post-War era; that’s all over with. The men are dead, and the women are dead, and so are their tools. Ink and telephones and typewriters. Those things are for fetishists now. Guitars, too, maybe. Guitars speak in Base-6, but the culture only recognizes Base-2 lately.

This is the past. Cars required regular maintenance and could not drive themselves, not one little bit. Seatbelts were an option, and you had to pay extra for them. You could buy airplane tickets in cash without identification. There was one phone company in all of America. It was called Ma Bell. I’m sure some realized how creepy that was, but not most. Big cities had six or seven newspapers, and some would publish in the afternoons so the men leaving their offices had something to read on the train back to Levittown. If you wanted to deposit a check or take out money, you went to the bank. The bank was closed. The bank was open for an hour a day in the past.

This is the past. Little boys wore shorts and sported crewcuts. Girls wore pigtails and learned to make goulash; the Hungarian ones did, at least. Bees were everywhere. At night, the villages would dance and burn creosote and then the mass lickings began. The sun was left-handed. The national pastime was sissyfighting. Erosion had not yet scrubbed the presidents’ dicks from Mount Rushmore. Shampoo was free.

Excuse me.

Oklahoma was where Belgium should have been, but not vice-versa.

Stop this immediately.

What did I do?

It got weird.

It did. The past was very weird.

You started making things up.

No. I am a journalist.

Tell the nice people about the website.

Sure. The Smithsonian (la-dee-dah) has thrown up a new crowd-sourced rock photo site. Go check it out.

That was it? 

Eh. It’s kind of shitty to navigate and they make it a pain-in-the-ass to steal the pictures.

You’re mad at an organization for attempting to protect its intellectual property?


As long as we’re clear.

Gong, Show

Hey, PIg. Whatcha doing?

“Waiting t’ play. Boys are doin’ their bippy-bop shit.”

This is 1970, though. They didn’t do it as much as they used to.

“Old age is gettin’ to ’em, I guess.”

Happens to us all.

“Didn’t happen to the ol’ Pig!”

No. How’s the venue?

“Atrocious! It’s like ruins, but without the charm. Know what it smells like? Imagine if piss could take a piss!”


“Helps t’ keep a cigarette lit. You should see some o’ the places we gotta play! Last month, we was in some sort o’ factory where they process horse assholes. during the day.”

What does “process” mean?

“I didn’t ask! If they gonna do that to a horse, imagine what they’d do to the ol’ Pig!”


“All we played was dumps. Even the nice joints! Fillmore East had rats the size o’ cats! An’ cats the size o’ dogs! An’ dogs the size o’ rats! It was circular an’ confusin’!”

I would imagine.

“Played a place in LA they did some sort ‘ Satanic nonsense in when the bands weren’t there! Walls was full o’ voodoo doodlin’!”

That sounds bad.

“Weirdo books layin’ around. Lesh starts readin’ from one and that mangy mutt summons himself up a taterdemalion. You ever met M’b the Soggy?”


“Avoid it if possible!”

Good advice.

“Nothin’ like those places you guys got. All nice an’ clean. Stuff t’ eat besides funky hot dogs and popcorn. I got no idea what gluten is, but I enjoy being able to not eat it if I don’t wanna.”

Pig, are you using the Time Sheath to go to concerts in the future?


Stop that.


Who’d you see?


Again? How many times is that?

“28. The ol’ PIg’s in the Beyhive. Even stole me a tee-shirt.”

Pig, please don’t wear a Beyoncé shirt in 1970.

“How ’bout I do, but just make sure there ain’t no pictures?’


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