Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: amir bar lev (page 1 of 4)

The Glitz And The Glamour

As I told you yesterday, Enthusiasts, the instantly irreplaceable documentary Long, Strange Trip will be coming back to theaters for limited runs in New York and Los Angeles; I did not mention the reason. The spectacular film and its heroic director, FoTotD Amir Bar-Lev, are up for some prizes. The Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards has an illustrious history stretching all the way back to 2016, when trolley cars ruled the avenues and baseball was still segregated. So the critics have a chance to see the flicks before voting, they’re all screened in a theater before the show.

Literally none of that is true. You made all of that up. 

Who gives a shit?

History. History will care, and history will judge you for your intellectual malfeasance.

Explain to me what intellectual malfeasance is, and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong.

Just try to get information correct.

That is most assuredly not my job around here, bucko.

The awards ceremony is being held November 2nd; the Los Angeles run isn’t until the 3rd. 

There might be Time Sheath technology at play here.

There is not. You made up the thing about why LST is going back to theaters. You saw there was an awards show and you conflated the two ideas in your head without thinking about it any further.


Get your shit together.

I’m ignoring you.

The world’s ignoring you.

Anyway, the movie’s up for Best Music Documentary and Amir’s up for Best Director. The betting door at Offtrack Betting on the Dead (OtBotD) is now open.

Though I have seen only one of these films, I can confidently say that the one I saw was the best. Not a strong field of horses here, if we handicap with an objective eye, and no eye is more objective than mine, as not only have I not seen these films, I have not heard of them. Even with this paucity of facts, I’d hesitate to place money on LST in this one. Very tough to beat the Eagles of Death Metal in this one. On the other hand, I would still pony up a bet as the lead singer of EODM is a repugnant man who managed to make himself unsympathetic despite having been the target of a terrorist attack. You have to be an immense asshole to pull that one off, and Guy Who Isn’t Josh Homme is just that kind of asshole. This might split the vote, enabling a third movie to win with a plurality.

Rumble is about the role of Native Americans in rock and roll. I called him Morgan is about a trumpeter who shoots his wife. Contemporary Color is 90 minutes of color guards throwing flags around while Ad-Rock raps. The Grateful Dead is better than all of these things, especially that color guard bullshit. The Indian movie sounds interesting, but no one in the Grateful Dead fell victim to a series of plagues in the 16th and 17th century, so that makes them the winner.

Nobody in the Grateful Dead ever shot anyone, let alone their wives, so it beats the trumpet movie.

Why the pause?

I had to stop and think about whether anyone ever got shot.

Yeah, okay. It’s like: someone should have gotten shot.

By accident, at least. Mickey should have shot a teenager in the foot while yoinking merch. Or Garcia winging Rock in that basement they hid in.

It’s a miracle they made it out alive.

A lot of them didn’t.

True. What about the Clive Davis movie?

I think they’re making movies now for the sole purpose of padding out Netflix.

That means you’ll watch it.

Of course. I’m currently reading a memoir written by the drummer from the Spiders from Mars. I have a problem. Let’s get off of me. The topic is LST‘s odds, and OtBotD sets the line at 3-1. Gonna be tough to climb over all those dead French kids.


What? I’m talking about gambling. I’m being hard-boiled.

You’re being wicked. You’re a devil-person with wrong thoughts and you shouldn’t share them with the nice people.

May I continue?

To hell. You may continue on the path to hell.

Thank you. The other category we (this is now a communal undertaking) have a nod in is Best Director. Let’s see who we got:

First of all, Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, this is too many people. You should have eliminated Morrison, Nichol, and Orlowski right off the bat for having boring names. In a similar but opposed fashion, Agnés Varda & JR are disqualified for having too interesting a name. Evgeny Afineevsky is also out, and that’s a personal thing between me and the Russians right now. Nothing against Evgeny. Irene Taylor Brodsky has three names, so fuck her. Frederick Wiseman sounds like a old-time movie star who appeared in horror movies, so he’s scratched. Matthew Heineman is just as boring a name as Morrison, Nichol, or Orlowski; I don’t know why I didn’t group him in with the others; I apologize to you for the oversight. Ceyda Torun is Star Wars character, and therefore nixed.

Amir wins. Odds of victory: 3-1.

You gave him 3-1 on the last one.

I don’t actually know how betting works.

You are bad.

Yes. We end with demands. Amir will most likely be present for one or more of the screenings in New York and Los Angeles, so I have two:

Enthusiasts in New York

Please bother Amir and take pictures.

Amir in Los Angeles

Please bother famous people and take pictures.

I would also like to be thanked from stage, but have just decided that I will write the acceptance speech. It is forthcoming.

The Devastation Of Harvey

Hey, Amir. How you doing, buddy?

“Fine. I’m fine. Let’s talk later.”

You sure?

“Everything’s fine. Don’t worry. All good.”

Where’s Harvey’s other hand?

“Don’t worry about it.”

Is it on your shmeckel?

“I said not to worry about it.”

Did he quote Jay-Z at you?

“No, DMX.”

Harvey Weinstein quoted DMX at you?

“He was barking and crying; I assumed it was DMX.”


“Dude, I’m fine.”

Blink twice if you’re not.

“It’s a photograph. This isn’t Harry Potter. Pictures don’t move.”

They don’t carry on conversations with shut-ins, either. Blink twice if you need help.



I knew it. I’m sending help.

“Please don’t send help.”


“Oh, God, don’t send him.”

“I think I’d rather have the other Josh.”

“Amir? Buddy? Tell me, Hollywood scion Josh Brolin, and whoever this tall guy is what Harvey did to you.”

“He didn’t do anything to me.”

“On you? Did he do stuff on you?”

“I really don’t want to talk about this.”

“Amir, you’re with friends.”

“I don’t know who the tall guy is.”

“Me, either, but look at that fucking adam’s apple. Fucker looks like a half-opened Pez dispenser.”

“Guys, I’m fine.”

“Amir, dude: I am totally on your side since this morning. Last week? You would have had to take one for the team. But now, you know, situation’s changed a bit. Or maybe it hasn’t. I mean, Woody Allen’s got a new movie coming out soon, so who knows how this whole thing will end up.”

“You’re not helping, Josh.”

“Should I find a doll? You could point on the doll where he touched you.”

“No doll.”

“What about some appetizers?”

“Oh, that would be great.”

“I’ll find a waiter. You hang out with the tall guy.”

“But I–”

“So. Uh. You’re pretty lofty.”

“Wanna watch me shower?”


A Sidewalk Of New York

“Walter Becker.”

“So sad.”

“Favorite Steely Dan, Amir?”

“The original, Steve.”

“The one from the book?”

“It combines my two greatest loves: steam-power and dildos. What about you?”

“Black Friday, I guess.”

“That’s a good answer, too. What are you doing in New York?”

“Hadn’t been in a while, Amir. Needed to see the city again, and everything that makes it great.”

“The East River kayak put-in area.”

“Chase Bank.”

“51st Street.”

“The Chase Bank opposite the first one.”

“The Home Depot in Union Square.”

“Guy Fieri’s in Times Square.”

“All of Times Square, really. And Alphabet City.”

“Oh, it’s not Alphabet City any more, Steve.”


“Nope. Eho.”


“East of Houston. It’s all condos and restaurants owned by David Chang now.”

“Sounds great. Any Chase Banks?”

“Enough. Enough so you know you’re in the Greatest City on Earth.”

“And what are you doing in New York, Amir?”

“I live here.”

“Good reason. How’s the family?”

“My wife, Shpilkis, and my children Shmuley, Hummus, and Tom Hagen?”

“Yes. Your family.”

“They’re great.”

“Tom Hagen?”



“I’m raising him to be my cinematographer.”

“That’s long-term planning, Amir. Good thinking.”

“His first words were ‘Sven Nyqvist.'”

“That’s a good omen.”

“How’s the Buddhism going, Steve?”

“Well. Very well.”

“Reach Nirvana?”

“Saw it once.”


“But, you know, then I realized that I saw it and it disappeared.”

“Nirvana’s kind of a little bitch like that.”

“You dabble in Buddhism, too, don’t you?”

“I do. I dabble. More of a Jewish Buddhism, though.”

“How so?”

“The mandalas are made of brisket.”


“And instead of meditating, you just have a nice sit.”

“Sounds kosher.”

“So what’s next for Steve Silberman? Working on another book?”

“I am. The next Game of Thrones book, actually.”


“I’m a fast writer. I think I can beat Martin to the shelf.”

“Can you do that?”

“Sure, it’s easy. Make up some words, steal some Tolkien, describe meals for five pages at a time. Simple.”

“No, I mean are you allowed to do that?”

“We’ll see, won’t we?”

“I guess.”

“What’s next for Amir Bar-Lev?”

“I’m executive-producing a children’s cartoon about the Wild West.”

“Yeah? What’s it called?”

The Brony Express.

“Sounds fascinating.”

“They fight the Paiute using friendship.”

“How does that go?”

“Terribly. The Paiute use guns.”

“I love these talks we have.”

“Me, too. Chinese food?”

“Yeah, but I need to hit the ATM.”

“I think there’s a Chase Bank on the way.”


An Ending No One Including Me Saw Coming

Where were you last night?

Excuse me?

There were no posts.

So? I take time away.

You don’t. You have no life.

I do. If you have to know, I had a date.

No. You have a better chance of getting that dog-sized elephant you want than getting a date.

Nope. Date.

You are aware that I’m you, right? I’m not a separate character like Elvis or Red Metal Stool.

Or Sleepy Batman.


He’s a fan favorite.

I’m ignoring you. You didn’t have a date.


Why do you lie?

It’s fun.

Tell the nice people what you did.

Nothing. Literally nothing. I stole the Phish show, read The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones by Rich Cohen, and went to bed at 11:30.

11:30 PM?


That’s, like, seven hours before your normal bedtime. How do you even do that?

Don’t worry about it. But now I’m good. Back on a normal schedule.

And by “normal schedule,” you mean “fucking around until three in the morning and then–just as you hit a good stride with the sentences and whatnot–the sun coming up and you recoiling like a dracula?”


Gotcha. So why are you procrastinating by talking to me?

I thought you were me.

We’re a biune god. Answer me, damn you.

Well, I was nervous that I couldn’t write anymore. Hadn’t done it in, like, 38 hours. Maybe I pissed or shit out my genius.

Not a thing.

It totally is. Francis Ford Coppola did it in ’81. Huge meal of rotelli and bocceballica and scaramucci–

Not actual foods.

–and the next morning: boom. Shit out every last good decision in him.

Do you have a point, or are you just wasting the nice people’s time peering around inside your own ass?

Third option! Picture of Oteil and Amir!



You think people won’t know that you’ve been staring at that picture for a week trying to figure out one of your little skitches for it and couldn’t come up with anything, so you’re just dumping it here in the middle of a bunch of time-wasting bullshit?

Why are you a fucking snitch?

You’re see-through. You’re a living wet tee-shirt, and your soul is the nipples. Everyone can tell what you are.

I’m gonna kill you and make it look like a suicide.



“Guys! HeyYAAAAAWWWNguys. Could you keep it down?

That better not be who I think it is.


Hey, Sleepy Batman.

“Sup, bro. Can you keep it to a dull roar?”

Sorry, man.

I hate everything about this.

Sam Cutler Took Me By The Hand, And We Made Love In His Chevy Van

“Do you all wear th’ same shirts now? Is this what your generation is doing? I’m ‘orrified.”

“Just a coincidence, Sam.”

“Now, Amir me son, I must confess to noticing that you ‘ave no crew members of color.”


“Nor Latinos.”

“Um, yeah, I guess.”

“Thought you were an ally.”

“I am an ally, Sam.”

“To what are you allied?”

“I have no idea.”

“There you go. That’s the kipper in the wicket.”

“I don’t think that’s a real saying.”

“Rubbish. Now, what shall we do about this inequity?”

“Sam, I work with people of color. But my camera guy just happens to be white.”

“Odd coincidence, innit? Sorry state I find you in, me son. When I managed the Grateful Dead, I strove for diversity.”

“You did?”

“I didn’t achieve it in the slightest, but I strove. The striving was present. Wasn’t all white boys. We had some ladies. Mickey shared the same affliction as yourself.”

“Being Jewish is not an affliction, Sam.”

“Rarely helps, though, dunnit?”

“Can we get back to the interview?”

“I’d like to talk some more about Phish. I ‘ave several mean comments I didn’t use.”

“Later, Sam. We’re losing the light.”

“Keep your pants on. All right, stories. I received four-and-a-‘alf blowjobs at Woodstock.”



“Keep it going.”

“The entire European tour in ’72 was a front for a ‘eroin distribution scheme.”


“Every word th’ truth, Amir me son. Jerry Garcia was completely bald at th’ age of 18. Wigs and facial prosthetics from then on.”

“That’s just not true.”

“Charlie Watts doesn’t know how to read.”

“None of this is true.”

“I never saw a cupcake until last week. A young filly I been seeing presented me with the confection, and I became frightened and struck her with the portable toilet from me van.”

“That might have happened.”

“Phil was th’ Zodiac Killer.”


Dropping In

You look familiar.

“Hi, I’m David Gans, host of the Grateful Dead Hour on SiriusXM’s GD Radio, and I’m here to tell you about my new album.”

Did…did you travel through time to plug your record?



“Gotta hustle in an expanding music market.”

True. Usually, people around here break the laws of temporality for much dumber reasons. Billy keeps using the Time Sheath to score–and I’m quoting–Etruscan puss.

“Well, I can see doing that once. You know, for the experience.”

He’s there all the time. They know him in Etrusca.

“I don’t think the Etruscans lived in Etrusca.”


“Can you pay attention? I literally traveled through time to tell the Enthusiasts about my album.”

In a Beetle, nonetheless.

“I bought it off an astronomer. Anyway, the record’s called Drop The Bone and it’s solo and full band stuff, originals and covers. Little bit of everything.”

Sounds good, but can we hear some of it?

“Funny you should ask that.”

You gonna hang around 2017?

“Fuck, no. It’s horrible here.”

Everything’s broken and covered in sadness, yeah.

“Hey, Young David Gans!”

Who was that?

“It’s me, Young Steve Silberman!”

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

“Hey, Young Steve! What are you up to?”

“Being young, going to Dead shows. You?”

“Same! I love being young and going to Dead shows!”

“We should do that right now!”

“Is there a Dead show right now?”

“I have the Time Sheath, so: yes.”


Can you two take this somewhere–

“Hey, guys! I heard you were being young and going to Dead shows, eh?”

I know that accent.

“Hey, Dave!”

“David. Hey, Dave!”

“Hey, Dave!”

“David. Hey, Steve!”


“Was there a young person’s party?”


“You’re very rude.”

I like your Bar Mitzvah suit.

“Thank you.”

Amir And The North Visitor

“Why are we so happy?”

“We? I don’t know about ‘we.’ You look amused; I look happy as shit.”

“True. You look like a kid on Christmas morning.”

“More like Hanukah evening. But only the first one.”

“I thought you got gifts all eight nights.”

“First night is for the big toy. Second night is underwear and chocolate. Third night is a showing of Fiddler on the Roof. After that, everybody just kinda peters out.”

“We have something similar, y’know.”


“Canukah. Commemorates the time when our proud ancestors were snowed in and thought they only had enough poutine for one day.”

“But it lasted eight?”



“The exchange rate.”

“Sure. Dave?”


“How did you start archiving?”

“My room was neat as hell growing up.”

“Makes sense.”

“Right? I always knew where everything was, and that’s pretty much the core competency of the job.”

“Can’t be an archivist if you just leave everything in a big pile.”


“I can only imagine your sock drawer.”

“It’s been featured in several publications.”


“What about you, Amir? How did you get into directing?”

“Got my start with Roger Corman.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No. Did a movie for him called Satan’s Attic. It was Roddy McDowell’s last picture and Andie McDowell’s first. Shot in in Baja for $1.2 million, and that’s including the motorcycle race and setting that broccoli farm on fire.”

“There was a scene with a flaming broccoli farm?”

“No, Roddy McDowell set the fire while he was drunk. We had to pay the farmer.”


“When he wasn’t drinking, Roddy was a prince.”

“What about when he was?”

“I just told you: he lit other strangers’ farms ablaze. You couldn’t extrapolate from that?”

“I thought maybe it was an accident.”

“Broccoli isn’t flammable. He had to prep the area for hours. Every step was a conscious, drunken, dickish choice.”


“Threw the loveliest dinner parties, though.”

“I’ll bet.”

A Friendship, Deepened

“I like that sweater.”

“It breathes.”

“Looks it. Nordstrom’s?

“No. My wife Regina makes all of our clothes.”


“All Canadian women make their family’s clothing. It’s really tough on the wives of Mounties.”

“The tunics.”

“Yeah. Those things require master tailors. Plus, you have to kill the beavers for the hats.”

“Sure. How do you kill a beaver?”

“Disappoint it until alcoholism sets in.”

“I’m learning a lot, Dave.”


“What’s the weirdest thing in The Vault?”



“He sleeps there sometimes.”


“Y’know, Amir, I don’t know much about you. What is your background?”

“Right now, a mirror.”

“Ancestors and all.”

“My parents, Zev and Bev Bar-Lev met in the Israeli Navy.”

“Israel has a navy?”

“It’s mostly arguing about where to eat in a rowboat.”


“Heavily-armed waterskiing.”

“In speedos.”

“Camouflage speedos, yeah. My parents were heroes. They were at Entebbe.”

“Your parents participated in the Raid on Entebbe?”

“They were in a canoe just a mile away.”


“If every single other mode of transportation failed, then it was up to them.”

“I’m impressed.”

“My dad saved his paddle. Family heirloom. Circumcised my boys on it.”

“It’s those links to the past that make us human.”

“You said it, Dave.”

“David. Hey, that little weirdo still bothering you?”

“Thinking about the Grateful Dead?”

“Yeah, whatever the fuck he calls himself.”

“Dude. He’s the worst.”

“I told you not to engage.”

“He won’t stop pitching terrible ideas. Last one was that we should do a movie starring porn stars that features full penetration.”

“That’s just called porn.”

“I told him that. He started in with Brancusi and the difference between intent and ‘intent.'”

“What does that even mean?”

“No idea. The next one was ‘Hotel Rwanda, but a musical.'”

“That’s distasteful.”

“He wrote some songs.”


“Toot-Toot-Tutsi, Goodbye.”


“It’s a nightmare.”

“You can always flee to Canada. You can sleep on our davenport.”

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

“Regina can always make more clothes.”

This One Gets Weird, I Can’t Lie

“Amir, don’t look behind you.”



“Camel vampires.”

“Oh. No. We’re iterating.”

“Shit. Y’know, this little prick’s got some nerve.”

“Don’t talk too loud. He’ll hear, and Elvis will show up or something.”

“He’s not paying attention. He just types.”

“I enjoy some of it.”

“Are you just being polite?”




“–it’s not right. I just wanted to make a 19-hour movie about a semi-defunct choogly-type band. I didn’t ask to be semi-fictionalized, and iterate into mirror universes. Which mirror universe is that, by the way? Are those the evil versions of us?”

“No. Cannibal versions.”

“Who’s eating who?”

“We’re eating each other.”

“That’s kinda sweet.”




“–the guy’s on my tits.”

“All of ’em?”

“Every one! Keeps sending me ideas, and each one’s worse than the last.”


“Musical about the Minotaur called Daddy was a Bull; Mommy was Amazed.

“That’s a non-starter.”

“Action movie where the bag guys steal a fuel pump and the gas station kills everybody trying to get it back. Like John Wick, but if Keanu Reeves were a gas station.”

“How would that even work?”

“I have no idea, but he sent me 2,000 words on it.”

“How are our cannibal universe doppelgangers doing?”

“They’ve cannibalized each other.”

“Sure. Now, how would a cannibal universe even work? Wouldn’t we both have been eaten long before reaching our present ages?”

“It was really just a throwaway joke, man.”



“Why are you defending him?”

“You’re being mean. TotD is awesome and shit, and they should’ve let him write the Amazon show, and he’s very handsome and suck my balls, yo.”

“What the fuck is going on?”


Don’t scream.


What did I tell you? Don’t make me get Elvis.

“What the fuck, man!?”

I was inhabiting David Lemieux. You familiar with skinwalkers?

“I did not consent to any of this.”

You think David did? He struggled!

“Is he okay?”

He will be. But until then, do you want to play with his flesh-suit?


You could wear him!


Let’s go scare Bobby.

“I want to go home.”

There’s no exit.

“You’re such a hack.”

That, too.

The Team-Up No One Was Expecting, But Can’t Be Completely Surprised By

“How are the kids?”

“Gordie, Girl Gordie, Jean-Luc, Fleece, Northstar, and the twins, Billie and Mickie?”

“Yeah. Your kids.”

“Good. They’re good. Growing, man. You wouldn’t believe how many bags of milk we go through a week. How are yours?”

“Rivka, Shmuley, and Hummus?”

“Yeah. Your kids.”

“Also good.”

“Amir, lemme ask you one question.”

“Oh, not you, too.”

“Why’d you leave out the Radio City shows?”

“You were a producer of the film, David.”

“I know, yeah, but I never quite understood what a film producer does.”

“No one knows. Well, wait, not exactly. The Executive Producer procures the money. The Line Producer writes the checks. But the kind of producer you were? No one knows.”

“It was swell to be one, though.”

“You’re chipper.”

“I’m Canadian.”

“What’s the next Dave’s Pick?”


“You just released Cornell.”

“I know. Every release from now on is going to be Cornell. We’re going the same way that Disney is going with Star Wars.”

“Taking something enjoyable and jamming it everyone’s ass until they burst?”


“It’s working for them.”

“That was my argument. Plus, this is a lot less work.”

“I would imagine.”

“What’s next for Amir Bar-Lev?”

“Thinking about becoming a YouTuber.”


“Yeah. Vlogging about my life. Maybe reacting to stuff.”


“What about you, David?”

“I’ve always wanted to be an exterior decorator.”

“Fascinating. Tell me about your posture.”

“Canadians all learn posture in the prairie schools we’re assigned to at whelping. From age five until fifteen, we were forced to play hockey while balancing Margaret Atwood books on her heads.”

“How much hockey did you play?”

“Normal amount. Nine or ten hours a day.”

“I’m learning a lot here.

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