Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: david gans (page 2 of 4)

The Assassination Of Julius Caesar, As Recreated Using Books About The Grateful Dead

What’s wrong with you? Honestly; no joke: what is your problem?

There’s not just one.

No. Ran out of steak knives?

Why would you need more than one steak knife? How many steaks can you eat at a time?

Sure. Please stop doing this.

It’s educational!

Yeah, but not about the thing you think.

I shot according to the Dogma 95 rules, except I made the toga out of paper towel. And I didn’t have a purple marker, so I drew the stripe with the red and blue ones at the same time.

Again I repeat: what is wrong with you?

Besides the fact that I put society on trial every damn day?

Yeah, besides that.

Little bit crazy.

Yeah. Plug the book.

You mean the latest in the acclaimed 33 and a Third series written by the great Buzz Poole about one of the only halfway decent records the Dead ever made, Workingman’s Dead?

Yes. Stop making weird videos.


Not So Much Dark As Dim

We may argue (good-naturedly, of course) about the BEST EVAR Dark Star. 10/31/70? The nearly hour-long journey to the center of Rotterdam from the Europe ’72 tour? The out-of-nowhere brilliance of 1/10/79? Cleveland ’72? Cleveland ’73?

If we’re honest: the best Dark Star is the one you’re listening to at the moment.

Unless you’re listening to this one: 12/31/81 from the Oakland Auditorium. Now, I’ve not listened to most of the 90’s Dark Stars because my time on this planet is finite, but none of them can possibly be as half-assed as this version. It is the dictionary definition of “ehh, fuck it.”

The rest of the show is worth a listen (and so is the DS: a bad Dark Star is still fucking Dark Star, maaaaaan), all three sets of it.

WARNING: Joan Baez.

BONUS: the recording I’ve linked to is courtesy of FoTotD David Gans, whose wonderful oral history of the band This is All a Dream We Dreamed can be purchased right over there on the sidebar.

Tux And ‘Tails


Here’s a welcome tonic and a counter to all the narcissistic wieners in tuxedos: good guy and FoTotD David Gans (whose book This Is All A Dream We Dreamed, co-authored with Blair Jackson, can be ordered from the sidebar) inducted our own Mrs. Donna Jean into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame the other night.

No jokes or snark about this one: congratulations, Mrs. Donna Jean.

(A word on tuxedos: I always screw up the timing with a tux. Any time I’ve had to wear a tux, I figure “Well, it’s a tux, so I have to look and smell my best, so I should start my ablutions early,” except I’m a dude with short hair. My full toilet takes less than fifteen minutes, and that’s pushing it, so I’m all black-tie fresh and clean an hour too early. And, you know, you can’t just lay around the house in a tuxedo, so I always end up sitting on the edge of my bed in a towel afraid to move in case it makes me sweat. Regardless of my difficulties, David looks very handsome.)

Radio Days

Looking for something to listen to? How ’bout the Grateful Dead Marathon over on KFPA, hosted by FoTotD, David Gans. I just checked in and Garcia was soloing, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.


jerry parco department store adoshino-dead
Most of the time, the innertubes are a terrible place full of capital letters and lies, but occasionally you find out that there are–and have been for a while–Japanese Deadheads.

The great (and greatly named) Buzz Poole even attests on Twitter that he saw a Dead tribute band in Osaka back in ’91, and not one made up of ex-pats and Marines and English teachers: the whole band: Japanese guys. Authentic ones; locally sourced. (Something as deeply weird and inspiring as the Dead making it to Japan is more than worthy of a plug: go pre-order Buzz’s new book on Workingman’s Dead. It’s part of the critically-acclaimed 33-and-a-third series and comes out in April and there are no spiders secreted within the books pages, probably.)

The odd thing is that this happened in Osaka. Kyoto? Sure. But, Osaka? Wow.

Anyway, the above picture comes from an old post on Friend of Thoughts on the Dead’s (FoTotD) David Gans’ website. A guy named Nabe threw a festival based around a band that never got within 3,000 miles of his home and 600 people showed up. Also: the bands–at least one of them–were not terrible.

A Japanese Fake Jerry. God bless America.

ps I had originally intended to post that tape of Majestic Circus–whoever in God’s name they may be–simply as proof that the festival actually happened, but these guys are not bad at all. They are actually killing this Playing, and Fake Jerry-san has really got Garcia’s tone down. Also, they have clearly learned the words to Playing phonetically and that is always good for a laugh.

A Review Of A Book

This Is A Dream We All Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead by Blair Jackson & David Gans is impressive, deep, and heavy. This book is an achievement of work and scholarship and many, many pages long.

It is an attractive book: the dust jacket is a creamy and rich white, like the stationery of a law firm that does not hire Jews. Is this white innocence? Or is it a subtle play on the Eastern tradition of wearing white at a funeral. “White = Dead.” Cleverly played, J&G, but then we notice that gold is another voice in the cover’s chorus and we hearken back to the Golden Road and this book cover changes everything before I’ve even mentioned the font.

The sub-title, which is required on books lately seemingly by Congressional mandate, and the border around the picture are the gold previously mentioned, and they have been inlaid into the thick paper via some sort of mechanical process: they catch the sun and fling it around the room; meanings and perspective swirl in my vision; I am overcome by the shock of realization: truth depends on how it’s illuminated.

The picture chosen of the band shows them and their youngest, handsomest, and alive-est. Phil looks like a human middle finger: every fiber of that young man is screaming FUCK YOU to everything in sight. Pig is trying to look scary, but Billy is legitimately menacing.

Garcia’s eyebrow game is on point.

TIAADWD: AOHOTGD by BJ & DG (I’m exhausted after that and this book shall hereafter be known as Dreamed) is a hefty tome, but not preposterous. You and a dog could play fetch with the book, but it couldn’t be a very small dog. If you threw it at a person, the damage incurred would be greatly dependent on whether you hit them with the flat part, a corner, or an edge. You could probably calculate with a 1d6 roll.

The spine of the book is unremarkable. The name is printed in a way that, when displayed on a shelf, causes people to tile their heads to the right to read it. This is one of the many ways the world fucks lefties that you never realized until now.

The back features advance praise from two people who I don’t know (Wavy Gravy and Greil Marcus) and one person who has called me a genius in print and probably regretted it ever since (Nick Paumgarten). Wavy Gravy’s advance praise includes the sentence “It leaps straight out of the tree-flesh to dance in our dreams.” and I just now realized that “tree-flesh” means paper and y’know what? Still doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Greil Marcus’ praise is lovely and gets to the prosaic nonsense that is what I so much love about show business: the nuts and bolts hassles of getting to the gig on time, maaaaan, that enables the jams.

Nick Paumgarten is a man of charity and kindness whose words I devour greedily. He is a family man, and a man’s man; he has stopped traffic on more than one occasion to allow animals to cross the street safely; he smells like a good education.

Sometimes, I disagree with his choices in punctuation.

Removing the dust cover of Dreamed, we find a solid plain of deep, almost navy, blue with an embossed Flatiron building in the lower right corner. Does it represent–

Stop this.

–the forces of capitalism, or…excuse me, I’m reviewing a book.

We all know what you’re doing. You are being terrible.

I believe in through reviews.

You are literally judging a book by its cover.

Little bit, yeah.

David Gans–who has been a great supporter of yours–was kind enough to send you this expensive-ass book and you’re being terrible.

Little bit, yeah.

Tell the nice people about the book.

Sure. Gimme ten minutes.


Dream A Little Dream

Couches are supposed to be for resting and relaxation, so I don’t know why Couch Tour is enervating me so, but I am exhausted. This time last year, Bobby was in rehab and Billy was in Hawaii and John Mayer was just a callow farmboy from Tatooine; there was nothing but long stretches of nothing, time enough to concoct stories about MechaBilly and visit Little Aleppo.

Now, though, there are streams to keep up with and books, articles, conferences, documentaries to read or watch or peevishly demand free copies of.

I do it for you, though, Enthusiasts. After all, TotD is the Only Dead Site That Matters.

Oh, no. Stop that.

Is it not true? Is it not written?

Yes, but: you wrote it.

There you go.

Please just continue.

Many things to know, Enthusiasts. Options a-plenty in Deadworld: there is the Dead & Company show in Worcester, MA, which can be listened to here.

This is the poster:

deadandco poster boston
The slightly observant will notice that the Dead’s iconography now extends to Steampunk, because absolutely everything hadn’t been ruined, but the inclusion of Steampunk signals that every single bit of reality is now terrible. (Steampunk is the only goggle-based aesthetic: everything and everyone involved in Steampunk has goggles on.)

The more observant will wonder how Brian May’s guitar got dragged into all of this.

The truly observant will realize that “Worcester” has been misspelled quite badly. (For those of you unfamiliar with Massachusetts, saying a Woostah show is in Boston is like saying the Newark Devils play in New York City.)

OR you could curl up with Without A Net. Not the live album, but instead a group of stunningly good musicians playing Dead tunes, featuring Reed Mathis from Billy and the Kids and a guy named Fareed Haque on guitar. Mr. Completely’s been ranting about this and rightly so: it is phenomenal – heavy, but with a bouncy groove. It sounds nothing like the Dead and that is the perfect compliment to both this band and to the Dead. It shows that the material–the canon they created–is worth keeping around for as long as we’ve held onto Gershwin and Foster. You should listen to this.

What about a book?

David Gans was kind enough to send me a copy of This Is All A Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead and I’m looking forward to cracking it open. Blair Jackson is David Gans’ longtime collaborator and co-author, but he has not paid me my due tribute, so I’m calling this one a Gans book.

Anyway: go buy it. As I said, I haven’t started it yet, so it might be written in Latvian or have crushed spiders* between each chapter, but probably not.

*That’s a great idea for a horror book, actually: in between, say, page 190 and 191, there’s a real dead spider. That would scare people.

Oral Exams

Image result for oral history of
There’ve been a few worthwhile books out for the 50th Anniversary–Deal and the great So Many Roads by David Browne come to mind–and this looks to be an excellent addition to the canon. (And right in time for Christmas.)

This is All a Dream We Dreamed is available in November and can be pre-ordered from Amazon now.

I would love to give you an early review, but for some reason, my free advance copy has not arrived. Was it stolen by my neighbors, none of who speak English? Was it eaten by an alligator, who also does not speak English? Was it destroyed by Mickey, angered at being left off the cover. (Mickey also does not speak English; everything you’ve heard him say for the past 50 years has been taught to him phonetically beforehand.)

“What a book,” I might say. “Get this tome or burn eternally in a Hell of your own making,” I might also say. “Blair Jackson has two last names, which makes him untrustworthy,” I would write and then delete because it makes me sound like a crazy person.

To this end, I am starting a petition on to get me an advance copy of the book.

Stop this. Please stop this.

How else can this problem be solved but through the public shaming of acquaintances and a cyber-petition?

Asking politely?


When people leave mean comments, you shouldn’t take it out on the rest of the readers.

He said I jumped the shark!

I know.

It was hurtful.

But it wasn’t true, so there’s that.

I haven’t jumped the shark?

No. You have to be good in the first place to jump the shark.

That makes me feel bettHEY, WAIT A MINUTE.

Nil By Mouth

TotD has an announcement: it’s enough with the oral histories. Our friend and skydiving-instructor (“You look smart, you’ll know when to pull the cord.”) David Gans has an oral history about the Dead coming out soon, and it will be praised and plugged; after that: no more oral histories.

Until then, here’s a short one about the Dead’s incredibly Dead-like relationship with the city of Austin.

Meme And My Shadow

Lots of people write about the Dead, and some do wonderful work, but  how dank are their memes? Does Blair Jackson even know what a meme is? Can David Browne properly judge the dankness of said meme? David Gans is a lovely man and friend of the blog, but I’ll just come right out and say it: his memes are not dank.

Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?


Just stealing credit for things sixteen-year-old Enthusiasts created and flinging weird insults at people who have been nothing but lovely.

Blair Jackson has not yet paid me tribute.

I want a divorce.

Ooh, no: we’re Catholic.

Since fucking when?

Since you asked for a divorce.

I wish you would fall down every stair in the world.

Get in line.

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