It’s not that Robert Altman.
Why you standing back there?
It’s not that Robert Altman.
Why you standing back there?
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.
“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.”
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.
Garcia’s head looks like a chimney brush. Just saying.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“AN’ THIS IS TH’ MULTI-TALENTED LATOYA 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?”
“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.”
“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.”
“AH HAD NOT FINISHED INNERDUCIN’ THE MEMPHIS MAFIA.”
“Oh. I, uh, thought you had completed the introductions.”
“YOU AIN’ PAID T’ THINK, NIX. YOU PAID T’ LEAD.”
“True, true. Elvis, you’re a wiser man than people know.”
“YEAH, AH KNOW LOTSA SHIT. MISTER PRESIDENT, THIS HERE IS MISS MARY. SHE IS MAH COOK AT GRACELAND.”
“How do you do, Miss Mary.”
“SHE MAKES ME MAH SAN’WICHES AN’ MAH BREAKFASTS AN’ ALSO MAH BREAKFAST SAN’WICHES.”
“Breakfast sandwich, Elvis?”
“MAN, YOU THROW COUPLE EGGS AN’ A POUND O’ BACON ON A REG’LAR SAN’WICH. BAM: BREAKFAST SAN’WICH.”
“ONNA WEEKEND, MAYBE YOU TOSS A SHORT STACK O’ PANCAKES ON THERE. THASS A MEAL FIT F’R THE KING. WHATCHOO USUALLY EAT, NIX?”
“Nixon is a light eater, very light. Poached egg in the morning. Coffee, black. Sandwich for lunch. Ham is fine, but the mustard shouldn’t have too much personality to it. Dinner is generally roast beef, maybe lamb. I enjoy cottage cheese. There are other cheeses, but the cottaged variety is the one I’m most familiar with. Perhaps some strawberry ice cream late at night. Little treat.”
“THASS TH’ MOST DEPRESSIN’ GODDAM THING AH’VE EVER HEARD, NIX. AH’M GONNA HAVE MISS MARY COOK YOU UP SOME DEEP-FRIED WHIPPED CREAM AN’ PORK.”
“That doesn’t sound appetizing, Elvis. No, thank you.”
“CATFISH AN’ BANANA SAN’WICH?”
“Elvis, I’m not hungry.”
“THEN ALLOW ME T’ CONTINUE T’ KEEP INNERDUCING MY LOYAL ENTOURAGE. THASS A FRENCH WORD, NIX: ENTOURAGE. MEANS ‘A BUNCHA GUYS WHO THINK YER AWESOME.'”
“THIS IS FUJI. HE ADVISES ME ON KARATE.”
“THAT AIN’ HIS NAME, BUT NONE OF US C’N PRONOUNCE HIS REAL ONE. THIS MAN HERE, NIX? HE IS A DANG LIVIN’ WEAPON. GOT THE EYES OF A PREDATOR, BUT SQUINTY. YOU DROP THIS HERE BOY IN VIETNAM? WAR’S OVER IN A WEEK.”
“I will take that under advisement, Elvis.”
“YOU HEARD O’ BLACK BELTS, NIX? THIS MAN GOT BLACK SUSPENDERS. FUJI! CHOP THAT COUCH IN HALF!”
“HOW ‘BOUT THAT?”
“Elvis, please stop destroying the Oval Office.”
“AH DID NOT DESTROY ANYTHIN’, MERELY FACILITATED TH’ COUCH’S DEMISE.”
“Don’t argue semantics with me, mister. This isn’t some Las Vegas showroom: it’s the White House. Have some respect.”
“AH WILL REIMBURSE BOTH YOU AND AMERICA HERSELF F’R THE COUCH.”
“AN’ THIS HERE’S MAH BAND.”
“Where did they even come from?”
“DON’ WORRY ‘BOUT THAT, NIX. YOU LIKE THAT INTRO MUSIC? AH STOLE IT FROM THAT BORING SPACE MOVIE WHERE TH’ GAY SPACESHIP KILLS THEM TWO GUYS.”
“Just knock it off. No music in here.”
“TAKE FIVE, BOYS. SWEET INSPIRATIONS, YOU TOO.”
“Elvis, how many people have you brought with you.”
“THASS A GOOD QUESTION. LET’S FIND OUT T’GETHER. THIS HERE IS MAH PERSONAL CROUPIER, HARRY EYEBALLS.”
“NEVER KNOW WHEN A DICE GAME GONNA BREAK OUT, NIX.”
“THIS TH’ KHALEESI. SHE TH’ MOTHER OF DRAGONS.”
“THIS HERE’S A MAN AH CALL TH’ HUMAN PYRAMID.”
“Why is that?”
“REASON’S O’ MY OWN.”
“Sure, playing it close to the chest. Good thinking, Elvis.”
“AN’ THIS HERE’S A GIRL FROM NEW YORK CITY. SHE CALLS HERSELF TH’ HUMAN TRAMPOLINE.”
“Ah. And she, uh, tumbled into Graceland?”
“MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE. YESSIR.”
“God bless America, Elvis.”
“THASS RIGHT, NIX.”
“Elvis, what the hell is happening?”
“NIX, AH THINK WE DONE ITERATED.”
“Say that again?”
“ISS CALLED CHARACTER ESSENTIALISM. IMPORTANT CONCEPT ‘F THIS HOOEY IS GONNA MAKE ANY SENSE, MAN.”
“Dammit, King, you’re talking gobbledygook. Why do you look like that? Why am I wearing a hairpiece? When did the Oval Office stop being black and white? Answer Nixon!”
“HOL’ THEM HORSES, MISTER PRES’DENT!”
“I think I’m freaking out, Elvis.”
“JENKINS! COME QUICK, AMERICA NEEDS YOU!”
“Yes, sir. Here I–”
“Who the hell are you two?”
“Jenkins, it’s me! Nixon!”
“I’m getting the Secret Serv–”
“Elvis, you shot Jenkins.”
“AH DID NOT SHOOT THE JENKINS. AH SHOT A JENKINS.”
“You’re right. That’s not my Jenkins. Looks like Tom Hanks’ kid.”
“WE ALL EXIST IN ALL POSSIBLE REALITIES, NIX. ARE YOU AWARE OF THE THEORY OF NARRATIVE TRANSUPERSTANTIATION?”
“THASS A SHAME. IT REALLY DOES EXPLAIN ALL THIS.”
“I think I could use one of those pills, Elvis.”
“L’IL BO PEEPER?”
“Just give me a damn valium, Elvis.”
“AH ALREADY SLIPPED SEVERAL INNA YER DOCTOR PEPPER.”
“What!? You drugged the President of the United States of America? This is treason! This is sedition! How dare you! I thought we were friends, Elvis! This has become a nightmare! A nightmare! A nightmare!”
“Mr. Vice-President! Mr. Vice-President! Wake up, sir. You’re having a nightmare.”
“You were shouting about something called an Elvis.”
“Oh, Jenkins. It was terrible. I was the president and some lunatic in a dracula costume drugged me. He said he had a Time Cape, Jenkins.”
“Why are you capitalizing that phrase, sir?”
“He told me to.”
“Jenkins, why is the sun on the wrong side of the plane?”
“THISS YER CAPTAIN SPEAKIN’. WE GONNA BE IN VEGAS IN ‘BOUT AN HOUR. THANK YOU, THANK YOU VERY MUCH F’R FLYIN’ ON THE LISA MARIE.”
“AH’M GONNA MAKE YER BOY DANCE LIKE A MONKEY, NIX.”
“Elvis, I cannot back that plan. Jenkins, while slothful and confused, is a loyal man. He serves Nixon, and that means he serves America.”
“DO TH’ WATUSI, BOY!”
“Stop it, Elvis. Jenkins, get out. You’re riling up the King.”
“Should I still get the doctor, sir?”
“INFORM TH’ DOCTOR THAT MAH HEEBIES ARE NO LONGER ACTING UP.”
“NEVER INTERRUPT ME, BOY! MAH JEEBIES ARE IN OVERDRIVE!”
“Are they two diseases, sir?”
“NIX, YER BOY ABOUT T’ GET KARATE ALL OVER HISSELF.”
“Dammit, Jenkins, get out!”
“Ignore him, Elvis.”
“IGNORE WHO, NIX?”
“You live entirely in the present, don’t you?”
“LESS TALK ABOUT NAZIS, MAN.”
“National Socialism? That’s the worst kind of socialism, and that’s saying something. It’s like being the ugliest girl in Trenton, New Jersey.”
“AH DO SO APPRECIATE YER SIMILES.”
“The Nazi is the lowest of men, and must be destroyed. Foul and perverse people, Nazis.”
“WORSE THAN TH’ COMMIES?”
“No question. Not even a contest. Nazis are evil. Communists aren’t evil, just wrong. Nothing good about a Nazi. You don’t treat Jews that way, Elvis. You don’t have to let them in your country club, but you shouldn’t round them up.”
“THROUGH MAH TRAVELS IN HOLLYWOOD AN’ SHOW BUSINESS, AH HAVE MET MANY JEWISH PEOPLE AN’ EATEN MANY OF THEIR FINE SAN’WICHES.”
“Yes, their sandwiches are enormous. I can’t watch Kissinger eat lunch. It’s like watching a python swallow a deer.”
“BEFORE THE JEWS, NO ONE EVER THOUGHT TO PUT A PICKLE NEXT TO YOUR LUNCH. NOW WHEN AH HAVE SAN’WICHES OF A GENTILE NATURE, AH START LOOKIN’ ROUND THE ROOM FOR A JEW T’ BRING ME A PICKLE.”
“What the hell were we talking about?”
“NO IDEA, NIX, BUT NOW AH’M HUNGRY.”
“I can, uh, have the White House chef make you anything you’d like.”
“DOES HE HAVE A DEEP FRYER?”
“I believe so.”
“LEAD ME TO HIM, NIX. AH HAVE MANY SPECIFIC DEMANDS.”
“YOU EVER HAVE A FLUFFERNUTTER FRITTER?”
“I don’t even know what that is, Elvis.”
“OH, MAN, YOUR MOUTH IS GONNA SHIT YOUR PANTS.”
“I, uh, enjoy your metaphors, Elvis.”
“NIX, YER MAH GUY. LESS GO ON A ROAD TRIP.”
“Nixon and Elvis in a Cadillac blasting across America, getting into adventures and discovering the meaning of friendship?”
“I will take it under advisement.”
“YER BOY IS GETTIN’ ALL UP ON ME, NIX.”
“Stand down, Jenkins.”
“Sorry, sir. I had that water Mr. Presley had requested.”
“THAT WAS A DAMN WEEK AGO, MAN! ME AN’ THE PRES’DENT BEEN TO CHINA AN’ BACK ALREADY!”
“Get out, Jenkins.”
“LEAVE TH’ DANG WAWA!”
“Leave the wawa and get out, Jenkins.”
“AH AIN’T NEVER SEEN SUCH POOR CHARLIE HODGIN’! AH DID NOT EVEN REQUEST A SCARF, AN’ YET HE COULD NOT FULFILL HIS APPOINTED TASK.”
“Very hard to get good help. Tough to keep people.”
“THEY GO ON T’ OTHER JOBS?”
“No, they get indicted.”
“MISTER PRES’DENT, YOU NEED SOME O’ THE MEMPHIS MAFIA TO DO ANYTHIN’ AROUND HERE, YOU JUST ASK. IN MAH OPNION, RED WEST WOULD MAKE AN EXCELLENT SECRETARY OF TH’ TREASURY.”
“How is he qualified for the post?”
“HE HOLDS MAH WALLET.”
“I’ll keep him in mind, Elvis. Dammit, King, we need to stop dicking around. They’ve already sworn the madman in.”
“NIX, ISS WEIRD THAT YOU DON’ UNDERSTAN’ THE RAMIFICATIONS OF HAVIN’ A TIME MACHINE.”
“Right! Right, yes. This is new to Nixon. I understand time as an arrow.”
“NAW, MAN. TIME IS A RIVER, AND WITH THE POWER O’ THE TIME CAPE, WE BECOME LIFEGUARDS WITH X-RAY VISION, AN’ CAN SWIM WHENEVER WE WANT AN’ NEVER GET WET.”
“Elvis, that didn’t even make sense by your standards.”
“MAH HEEBIE-JEEBIES ARE ACTIN’ UP.”
“Oh, no. Should I send for the White House physician?”
“THAT DEPENDS. IS HE A FAN O’ MINE?”
“I believe he is, Elvis.”
“BRING HIM UNTO ME.”
“Yes, yes. Jenkins? Jenkins!”
“AH TOL’ YOU THAT BOY IS USELESS AS A DICK ON A TENNIS RACKET.”
“You’re getting worse, Elvis! Your metaphors have lost all coherency. Jenkins, fetch the doctor.”
“Our doctor, sir? Or the one Elvis brought with him that’s been shooting morphine into the secretaries?”
“Elvis, lay down on that couch. The doctor will be here in a moment.”
“AH FEEL WOOZY.”
“THASS A FUN WORD T’ SAY, NIX. ‘WOOZY.’ TRY IT, MAN. MAKES YER MOUTH FEEL LIKE THERE’S A PARTY GOIN’ ON.”
“You’re delirious, Elvis. Lay down. I will be in the next room.”
“WHERE YOU GOIN’?”
“I am still consolidating our power. I believe that the urban initiative I launched yesterday is paying off, but I must speak to some more dignitaries.”
“YOU A MASTER OF REALPOLITIC, NIX.”
“AH WILL BE HERE GOIN’ THROUGH YOUR DESK LOOKIN’ FOR LOOSE POLICE BADGES.”
“Okay. Be right back.”
“Can your country count on you, Mr. Brown?”
“MY HEEBIE-JEEBIES ACTIN’ UP!”
“Oh, God, another one.”