Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: brent mydland (page 1 of 12)

The Dead Sell Out

When did Phil stop drinking? Because this is from before that. I think it’s ’85; that shirt combination was one of Garcia’s favorites in ’85.


“So it’s me and Mydland and Jer. and we’re singing or something.”


“But then the camera pulls to out reveal we were on a monitor.”

“I don’t think there’s a special effects budget.”

“We’ll figure it out. Anyway, now we’re in the studio and you read the copy or whatever and Billy sits there and dicks around.”


“But then the camera zooms out…”

“I’m listening.”

“And I’m sitting there, too!”

“I don’t get it.”

“I was in the teevee monitor.”


“And then I’m sitting next to you.”

“You can always sit next to me, buddy.”

“Weir, I just fucking can’t with you today.”


There are (at least) three schools of thought about the Grateful Dead’s business acumen, two of which are wrong and believed by others, and one of which is correct and obviously belongs to me. The first is that the organization was made up of apple dumplings with scrota full of glitter and hugs; men and women who cared nothing for the material and did it all for the fans, and for the music. Maaaaan.

The second take, the revanchist take, the contrarian take, is that the Grateful Dead were visionaries of commerce and communication. That their early-adopter stance towards technology advanced the industry as a whole, and that their intuitive use of branding led to memetic penetration of the teenage mind via ballpoint drawings of Stealies on desks and backpacks, and then you’re gonna hear a rap about how tapers either built the internet or were the internet. Run from these types.

The truth is that the Dead did all the same bullshit the other big bands did, but–due to congenital bushiness of their collective league–they almost always fucked it up. They tried hard to be big stars, and they worked diligently at pushing merch; they played Lovelight for 45 minutes at the biggest gig of their life, and they made commercials like this.

Go watch that bullshit again. I demand it. You must. I’ll wait.


Did you see that bullshit?

Did Precarious Lee write this script? What is for sale? “Projects and products.” What is that, Grateful Dead? You literally could not be less specific. “Projects and products” encompasses actions and objects. You’re basically saying “We have nouns and verbs for sale.”

Also: calling back? Younger Enthusiasts, before the internet there were far fewer ways to buy stuff. You went to the store. Other than that, you had catalogues. You wrote the company, usually longhand, having been taught both the proper format for a business letter, and enclosed a check or money order in the envelope. Mailed it off and then waited. There was no app to obsessively check the status of your package, so there was joy in the surprise when it arrived.

After a while, you could call an operator and order out of the catalogue.

By ’85, you could also shop on teeevee. Call the number on the screen, give ’em your credit card number, and they’ll send out your Ab Weasel. (The Ab Weasel was an actual weasel that bit you if you stopped doing sit-ups.)

And that was it. There was no “call you back.”

So: the customers had no idea what they was buying, and–even if they wanted to put their money down on sight-unseen merch–needed to wait for you to get back to them?

Good work, Grateful Dead. Proud of ya.

The Briefcase of Infinite Felonies Lands Safely

Oh, holy shit, Garcia.

“What now, man?”

Did you and Brent just take a helicopter to 2009?



“We took the Time Sheath to 2009. We took the helicopter to the Alameda county fair.”


“Alameda does fairs right, man. The kids show off their cows, corn dogs. It’s just tits, man.”

Sure, right. But why did you need to go to the one in 2009?

“I like to mix it up.”

And why did you need to take the helicopter?

“Traffic, man.”


For at least one flight, that helicopter pilot was a drug smuggler.

Playing In The Pick-Up Band

“Why does Bobby keep calling you Oteil?”

“No fucking clue, man.”


Every third asshole on the street looks like this now; no one had a beard in the 80’s except Brent and Kenny Rogers.


Is this a bar’s back porch? Why is Bobby playing a Les Paul? Who would buy Merit cigarettes? Anyone got any clue what this is?


Once there were two keyboardists who were so very poor, but in love. They white one had a beard that was his glory, and the black one had a hat. O, they were so very poor, but in love.

Please don’t do O. Henry.

Everyone loves that story. My version’s different.

Brent sells his beard to buy Merl hat cream, but Merl has sold his hat to buy Brent beard conditioner. We can all see where that’s going.

No, they were gonna rob a bank.

Equally as ignorable.

You’re just mean for no reason.

There’s a reason.


You deserve it.


Join Together With The Band

Fun fact: this is a bigger crowd than at Trump’s inauguration.

Not fun at all fact: Trump was inaugurated.

Familiar fact: Mickey. Who does he look like? I can’t quite place my…oh, right.

I knew I recognized him.

Anyway: Meet-Up at the Movies is on 8/1/17 and the show is 7/12/89. Make your plans, or don’t. I’m not your boss.

Paging Chez Ray, Paging Chez Ray

Where you going?

“Getting that meatloaf sandwich.”

You’re obsessed.

“I’m hungry.”

How did Brent do?


Brent. Your new keyboard player. This is his first show.

“It is? I thought Donna called in sick.”


“How about that? I’m sure he did great. When have we ever hired the wrong keyboardist?”

40% of the time.

“Close enough for rock and roll, right?”


“Now stop bothering me. Sandwich time.”


There’s Always One More

Here you go, Enthusiasts: this is my contribution. Previously, there were three pictures of Bobby in various stages of bunnification; now there are four. (I always figure if I haven’t seen a photo, then most haven’t. If that comes across as arrogant, well: consider the topic. It’s like bragging about Magic the Gathering. And plus I didn’t even claim to be the best at it, so it’s like bragging about coming in sixth at a Magic the Gathering tournament.)

The Grateful Dead, Younger Enthusiasts, didn’t do a lot of teevee. Possibly because the first time they were booked on a show, Playboy After Dark in 1969, they ended up dosing the entire building. But it also makes sense: there weren’t too many televised venues for any rock music back then. There was Ed Sullivan in the 1960’s, and the Smothers Brothers for a year or two, but after that the opportunities dried up. Pop stars were all over the dial, obviously, but not rock. Johnny Carson didn’t book bands at all until much later in his run. There was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, and that was about it.

And then, in 1975, came Saturday Night Live. They had rock bands on, good ones and wild ones and sometimes things would go terribly wrong, which was horribly entertaining, and they had very hip taste. Tom Waits was on in 1977, and Sun Ra in ’78. The first four musical guests in ’78 were the Stones, Devo, Frank Zappa, and Van Morrison. (Zappa was actually the host, and that went precisely as well as you’d assume. It turns out that “doing sketch comedy with stoners” wasn’t in Frank’s toolbox; he and the cast hated each other by the end of the week.)

Week five was the Dead. The comedy writers Al Franken (who is now a Senator) and Tom Davis (who is now dead) were massive Deadheads and lobbied Lorne Michaels to book the band. He didn’t want to–the Dead were not very cool at the time, and certainly not Lorne Michaels’ New York-centric version of cool–but one has to believe that Al Franken can wear you down. Lorne must have liked them because he had them back the following year, and even let Billy be in a sketch.


Told you.

Contrary to Frank’s Zappa’s surliness, the Dead are affable fellows (and Mrs. Donna Jean) and made friends with the cast; Belushi and Ackroyd would do their Blues Brothers routine at Winterland with the band the night they closed the place down.

Phil may or may not have gone to town on Lorraine Newman.

A Panda All Seasons

Are you still doing this?

“I heard you got my song in your head.”

Not talking to you, John.

“I hate this site.”

I am nicer to you than any other site on the internet that’s not a John Mayer fan page.

“Yeah, okay.”

Now, shh. Hey, Brent.

“Hey, man. How’m I doing?”



You are dancing just like a panda. Hey, did you see that your daughter made her debut performance the other night?

“Of course I saw. I was there.”

Dammit, Brent.

“No one noticed me. I was in a Gruff the Crime Dog costume.”

Yeah, no one noticed you.

“What else could I do?”

Shave your beard. Literally no one on the planet would recognize you without your beard.

“I can’t.”

It’ll grow back.

“No, I can’t. There’s nothing under there. The entire lower half of my face is made of beard. It would be like sweeping a dirt floor.”

How would you know you were done?


What about a fake beard over your beard?

“That’s just silly.”

Right. Whereas wearing mascot costumes is serious business.

“In the Furry community it is.”

Don’t talk to me about that nonsense.

“You’re a bigot.”


“Y’know, us Osaphiles get enough bullshit, and I won’t take it.”



Don’t bring Greek into your perversions.

“Hey, fuck you, man!”

Where you going?

“I’m going to ruin a stranger’s day!”

Don’t do that, Brent.


Why did you do that, Brent?

“I don’t get any respect at all around here!”

That’s not true, buddy.

“You treat me like a joke!”

I do not.


Let it out, buddy.

Still Feel Like Your Keyboardist

What are you doing?

“Oh, hey. This is the video for my new single Still Feel Like–”

Not you.


I’m not talking to you.

“Who are you talking to, then?’


“Hey, buddy.”

I am NOT kidding any more. I’m taking that damn Time Sheath away from all of you.

“No one knows it’s me!”

Not the point. I’m not judging you for being a Furry, man, but do it in the 80’s. Stop wandering around the 21st century in mascot costumes.

“There are no Furries in the 80’s except for the Phillie Phanatic and the San Diego Chicken, and neither of them are talking to me.”

Why not?

“I fuck too hard.”

Oh, God, that was the worst sentence I’ve ever heard.

“Well, I didn’t want to lie. Hey, man. You think John likes me?”

I think he shouldn’t know you.

“It’s just that the other panda has been here a while, and I don’t know if I’m fitting in.”

You need to work on this self-esteem thing, buddy. You’re a great panda.

“Thanks, man. You wanna hear a song?”

No. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a great panda.

“So, John likes what I’m doing?”

Have you talked to him?

“Yeah. I said ‘Hi,’ and then he told me how he flies in his lettuce from Romania. For, like, a half-hour.”

He does that.


(With thanks to Cascadia’s champion, Mr. Completely, for recognizing Brent.)

The Promised Land

In keeping with local tradition, Bobby took multiple stone-cold foxes back to his room that evening.

Also: that’s Robert Vaughn on the balcony. Honest.

(This pic is from 9/4/83 at the Park West Ski Resort in Park City, Utah. The Dead played there once again in ’87 and then three shows at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City in ’95. When you think Utah, you think the Grateful Dead.)

Rock, Band

I’d not seen this shot before. The other more famous and widely-circulated frames from this roll of film, yes, but not this one. Any day, any day at all, you could wake up and meet your true love, or step in front of a Honda, or you might see a picture of the Grateful Dead you’d not before.

There’s always a reason to wake up.


Get out of the picture, Rock.


Spot the Heineken(s).

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