Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: 1970 (page 1 of 7)

Scaffolded

Precarious?

“Yo.”

What the fuck?

“Scaffolding?”

Scaffolding.

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

What?

“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.

“Yup.”

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?

Yes.

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!”

Ew.

“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!”

True.

“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?”

No.

“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?

“Yep.”

Stop that.

“Nope.”

Who’d you see?

“Beyoncé.”

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?’

Deal.

That Confounded Bridge

For fuck’s sake. Precarious?

“Yo.”

Precarious Lee, everyone.

ENTHUSIAST APPLAUSE NOISE

“Hey.”

What the hell is that?

“That’s the Dead. Choogly-type band.”

Yes, thank you. I recognized them.

“They’re easy to spot.”

But mostly I recognized your handiwork. Are those speakers?

“Where?”

On the right.

“Yup.”

Are those two columns of speakers separated by a couple feet with another speaker bridging across the top?

“Yup.”

Why, man?

“Why not?”

So, so, so many reasons.

“If someone dies, we’ll do it different next show.”

That’s your motto, isn’t it?

“Mottos are for assholes.”

True.

Ah, You Come Up With A Title; I’m A Bit Distracted

It’s not that Robert Altman.

OR

Phil?

“What?”

Why you standing back there?

“Chili farts.”

Okay.

I’d Rather Be In Some Dog Collar

Some pedal steel sweetness for you courtesy of Cascadia’s Champion, Mr. Completely. It’s Garcia, Bobby and John Cipollina on acoustic, and someone who was not Jeff Chimenti on piano.

Three Dead In Massachusetts

“You want some, Pig?”

“Keep that devil’s lettuce away from me! The ol’ Pig smokes Camels like Jesus said to in th’ Bible!”

“He said that?”

“I’m just repeatin’ what I heard in Sunday School.”

OR

Anything made of metal that remained still for more than ten minutes got a Stealie welded to it; objects not made of metal would get Stealies stuck to them.

OR

Garcia’s head looks like a chimney brush. Just saying.

OR

This is also from the Kresge Plaza show in 1970; like I said, the students had taken the campus in protest of the Kent State murders.

We speak now to the Younger Enthusiast, may they stay so forever. On April 30th, 1970, Nixon announced his new strategy to win the Vietnam War, which was by going to war with Cambodia. And, if that failed, Laos. Nixon was going to win this war, no matter how many wars he had to start. Naturally, this alarmed able-bodied young men, whom are required to have a war, and it doubly alarmed students because in 1969 the college deferment had been eliminated.

(Did people avoid the draft by taking a couple credits each semester for the length of the war? That might have been my method. I could have easily hid from the war for a decade at my local community college, taking whatever class interested me. That sounds like a pleasure, actually: you could learn, and make new friends.)

In 1940, the Unites States started drafting young men, which makes sense, but then the government forgot to stop when WWII ended, and so there was conscription until 1973. Any amount of thought or research will lead you to the fact that armed forces rarely want conscripts; they’re just going to fuck everything up on purpose. Remember how Klinger from MASH was always trying to get thrown out of the Army? In real life, that’s less cute because the guy who really wants out of the Army is surrounded by guns and grenades. How are you going to get any soldiering done when half your time is making sure your squad isn’t trying to escape? Throughout history, a conscripted troop will bolt the first chance he gets.

But this is the US government we’re talking about, so the draft stayed. There were free passes, though: college, marriage and/or children, homosexuality. The nation needed to protect its thinkers, families, and gays, so they were not allowed to go to war. (That’s why gays weren’t drafted, right?) In ’69, like I said, Nixon removed the student deferment.

And then, right before May Day, he announces the whole “Start two wars to win one” campaign. The students responded with equanimity.

And then they began setting things on fire.

They did at Kent State, at least: things got out of control. A little bit by the kids, but mostly by the adults. And the adults had all the weapons. The bayonets, too: on the 3rd, several students got stuck. The National Guard had brought bayonets to the campus, and then used them. That was on the 3rd. On the 4th, the National Guard remembered that they had rifles, and they used them, too.

Two of the dead were 19 years old, and the other two were 20. Nine others, all students, were wounded. The closest was not within 100 feet of the Guard’s position, the farthest was over 700 feet away. All were unarmed.

No criminal charges were ever brought. Civil cases failed. The public blamed the kids, and reelected Nixon in a landslide 16 months later.

This is what the Alt-Right are trying to do at Berkeley right now, this is what they want. Ann Coulter masturbates to that photo of the girl crying over her dead friend.

That went from history to current events kinda quick.

Everything happens at once.

It does tend to do that.

M.I.T As Well

When dunces give you that “Jerry didn’t want it to be about politics, maaaaaaan,” jive, just remind them the Dead were literally the house band of a student riot. This is 5/6/70 on the Kresge Plaza at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The band was scheduled to play the next night in the gym, but when the kids took the campus in protest of the National Guard murdering four Kent State students, the Dead agreed to provide the soundtrack; they were hidden in the back of a bread truck and smuggled onto the site. (It looks like they didn’t bring Pig’s organ.) It was cold–May in Boston can get wicked chilly–and they had more trouble keeping their guitars in tune than normal, but the set’s got a crackly and wired energy; Dancin’ in the Street is the highlight, which makes sense given the context.

Garcia didn’t do politics because he was terminally passive-aggressive, but the Grateful Dead always chose sides, and it was always the side you’d expect.

The Return Of Phil And The Phoxes

Enthusiasts, let’s solve a puzzle. We’ve done it before. The timeline of Garcia’s unfortunate 1969 mustache? Done. Who actually booed Seastones in Germany? (The Americans.) What caused the Civil War? Slavery.

It’s more complicated than that.

Only if you’re a historian or a racist.

Yeah, okay.

But now, Enthusiasts, we come to our greatest challenge ever. Our Apollo Creed, our Clubber Lang, our Ivan Drago, our whoever-Rocky-fought-int-the-fifth-and-sixth-ones. Perhaps some of us shall not survive. Perhaps all of us will not survive. If so, it’s been an honor lying to you.

But we must soldier on. I call to the Four Winds! I call to Nicolantheum von Meriweather in California, and David Lemieuxrphy’soilsoap in Canada, and Corey from Lost Live Dead in the Comment Section! Hear me, Deadbase editors and amateur rockologists! Are you out there, two specific women from Minnesota who should be in their late 60’s by now?

Please help me.

Please help me.

What the fuck is this bullshit?

I posted this photo years ago, and christened the band Phil & the Phoxes; to be honest, I didn’t even notice Pigpen standing behind the amplifiers. Found it on Google, slapped it on the blog, made my wee funny, and moved on with what I’m euphemistically referring to as “my life.” But here it is again, risen from the collective subconsciousness of Deadheads everywhere, and contemplated by the great Jesse Jarnow.

This is what he has to say about it:

Except, that is, for one intriguing photograph by Tom Berthiaume. Dead bassist Phil Lesh sings at center stage, and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan leans on the band’s amps at the rear. Seated at the drum sets, however, aren’t Billy Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, but two fashionably dressed young women, more mod than hippie. A call to Berthiaume several years ago yielded nothing more than the memory that the photo was almost definitely taken between the evening’s early and late shows, and not during the performance itself. Beyond that he remembered nothing.

So: who are they and why were they allowed to sit and Billy and Mickey’s kits? (One would imagine that this action generally led to a sudden and vicious thrashing.) They don’t look like they came with the band–they’re clean–and they also don’t look like they came for the band; that is most certainly not what groupies looked like in 1970. Neither of those haircuts should be in the same room with the Grateful Dead, let along onstage playing the drums behind Phil.

(Let’s just note what Phil looks like, accept it, and push forward. Also: I think the ol’ Pig is birddogging Tig Notaro on the right.)

So here’s the question, Enthusiasts: what the fuck? Let’s solve this. Then, world peace.

It’s A Zoo In Here

“AH HAVE NOT FINISHED INNERDUCIN’ THE MEMPHIS MAFIA!”

“It’s been a week, Elvis.”

“THE STORYLINE DONE REVIVIFIED ISSELF.”

“Fine, fine. At some point I need to get some work done. Laos isn’t going to bomb itself.”

“AH’M GONNA MISS YOU WHEN AH GO.”

“Yes, I suppose that I, uh, have enjoyed our time together.  Lovely to make a friend, especially such a special one.”

“AH AM VERY SPECIAL.”

“Weren’t we going to use the power of the Time Cape to save the future?”

“HOW C’N WE SAVE THE FUTURE IF WE CAN’T EVEN SAVE OURSELVES, NIX?”

“That was poignant, Elvis.”

“YEAH, AH’M POIGNANT AS SHIT, MAN. YOU MET MAH MONKEY YET?”

“I have met Charlie Hodge a number of times, yes.”

“NAW, MAN, MAH REAL MONKEY. MISTER JIGGS? C’MON OUT HERE, BOY. STOP LOVIN’ UP THAT BUST O’ CHURCHILL.”

“It was due for a cleaning.”

“C’MON, JIGGS. COME MEET YER PRESIDENT.”

“Mister Jiggs looks like some of the young people who protest outside.”

“DONTCHOO GET ME STARTED ON THEM DINGDANG HIPPIES, NIX! WEARIN’ BLUE JEANS LIKE SATAN WORSHIPPERS!”

“That is Agnew’s belief. That, uh, all the young people are in thrall to the evil one.”

“AH SENSE HIS TRICKERY IN TH’ SIDEBURNS OF TH’ YOUTH!”

“They yell and scream outside the White House. I watch them sometimes, Elvis, and I see a darkness in them. Their eyes, King. Blacker than Roberto Clemente.”

“THASS ONE DARKLY-COMPLECTED OUTFIELDER.”

“The girls, the young women, they neglect themselves. Unshaven legs with no stockings. Makeup slapdash, if at all. Some of them do not wear, uh, the proper undergarments. Brassieres, I mean. There is a great deal of movement. To and fro, bouncing, that sort of thing. I blame the parents.”

“AH BLAME TH’ BEATLES.”

“Yes. Them, too. Elvis, Mister Jiggs is still making love to Churchill’s head.”

“JIGGS, DAMN YOU! AH TOL’ YOU TO MAKE YOUR LOVE BEFORE WE CAME TO TH’ WHITE HOUSE!”

“There’s an intensity in that monkey’s eyes I almost admire, Elvis.”

“MISTER JIGGS IS A CREATURE OF PASSION. IGNORE HIM, SIR. THIS IS MAH PRIVATE NURSE, RUBY DEVILLE.”

“Miss Deville.”

“AN’ THIS IS TH’ MULTI-TALENTED LATOYA JACKSON.”

“Miss Jackson.”

“THIS HERE IS GO-KART TOMMY.

“Go-Kart Tommy. What does he do?”

“HE TAKES CARE O’ THE GO-KARTS.”

“Of course. Elvis, now Latoya Jackson is making love to the Churchill bust, as well.”

“THASS TO BE EXPECTED. YOU NOW HOW AH TOL’ YOU SHE WAS MULTI-TALENTED?”

“I do.”

“THAT THERE IS ONE O’ HER TALENTS. BUSTS, STATUES, SCULPTURES: SHE’LL LOVE UP ON ALL OF ‘EM.”

“A specific talent.”

“SAW HER HUMP A FRIEZE ONCE.”

“Fascinating.”

“MISTER PRESIDENT, THIS HERE IS TH’ GHOST O’ LOU GEHRIG.”

“The Iron Horse! Pleased to meet you, Lou.”

“LOU IS A VALUABLE MEMBER OF MAH ENTOURAGE. NEVER CALLS IN SICK.”

“No, he wouldn’t, would he?”

“NIX, IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL, ANY ANIMAL AT ALL, WHAT WOULD YOU BE?”

“An elephant. Powerful, intelligent, Republican. Perfect animal. You?”

“HELL, MAN: AH’D BE MISTER JIGGS. THAT MONKEY GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT.”

“He seems to be enjoying himself.”

“JIGGS HUMPS LIKE NO ONE’S WATCHIN’, NIX.”

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