Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: jesse jarnow (page 1 of 3)


As you must surely know by now, Thoughts on the Dead is not a one-stop shop for all your Jam Scene needs. Sartre said that hell is other people, but he hadn’t heard Twiddle. It’s all just a bunch of doodlebopping for smelly whites to stand in a field to, and I’ll have no truck with any of them. I also wouldn’t get in a van with any of them. Take your Widespread Cheeses and your Dildo Bilbos and begone with you.

And while the Phishes are galactically better than the rest of the dreck on that JamOn station, TotD is not TotPh.

(Seriously, Phish: it is embarrassing at this point that you don’t have your own channel. Jimmy fucking Buffet has his own channel, and he is a demon in flip-flops.)

Which is to say that the Phish nonsense ends tonight, and not a moment too soon; if I read another too-clever-by-half article about the band, I’ll plotz. Plotz, I tells ya. Thankfully, like a cactus bloom in a desert, the great Jesse Jarnow writes about the highlights in Rolling Stone. Mr. Jarnow (along with Ms. Petrusich in her New Yorker article) distinguishes himself from the pack by knowing what he’s talking about, and I urge you to go read his lovely prose.

If you don’t have time, though, I can recap his highlights for you:

Best Donut-Related Teen Freakout: “Adam Hershowitz, 19” (Jimmies, Night 9)

Adam’s cousin told him to wait an hour. Adam didn’t feel anything after 20 minutes. Adam put the donut on his dick and ranted about how rosary beads were just wearable prayer wheels. Adam got tackled by security.

Most Unexpected Celebrity Sighting: “Suge Knight” (Boston Cream, Night 12)

When asked about his presence at the show, Suge explained his longtime love for the improvisatory Vermonters. He went on to express his hope for some “dope 2.0 shit,” and then went backstage and dangled Page out a window for a while.

Killerest Jams: “Multiple” (Multiple nights)

Phish showed the packed house opening night that this wasn’t to be a normal run with intensely jammed-out versions of Swack, Mining In The Forest, and Lamp Fight. (The Lamp Fight jam in particular was incredible, lasting 40 minutes and containing musical allusions to Trey’s never-completed fantasy-themed rock opera, The Moate Of Grilm.) Night two saw an almost hour-long rendition of Tetherball Daddy, while night five featured an Anteater>Face The Water>Frictional Fraction>Anteater that was better than any magic trick Criss Angel can do.

Angriest Crowd Member: “Sam Cutler” (Strawberry, Night 2)

Sam Cutler threw his donut at a young woman in a wheelchair, and then punched Mike Gordon right in the scarf. He had nothing but compliments for the spicy chicken sandwiches, though.

Reading, Material

Reading time, Enthusiasts, and nothing dreary and dangerous like politics: our subjects include rococo homes, baroque bands, and how awesome I am.

We begin with what began as an adjunct to Lost Live Dead, but has since become its own river of well-sourced Rock Nerdery: Hooterollin has the all the family secrets behind Me And My Uncle. John Phillips, from the Mamas and the Papas and also incest, wrote it–maybe–during a tequila-fueled public blackout, and then Judy Collins got involved; it’s a long and interesting story, so go read it.

Or you could take a look at Tony Duquette’s work. He was a designer from Los Angeles who worked on movies and for the theater, and made restaurants and hotels look swanky; when he went home, he preferred a restrained decor.

Nah, just kidding: he was an insane maximalist who put all the furniture and all the art in every room always. This is low-key compared to what he thought a bathroom was supposed to look like.

Captain of the Comment Section and Professional Lorax J. Eric Smith brings us two nuggets of beauty and truth, and also many links to his thoughts on prog rock bands and also that super-scary metallic music that he favors. First is an interview the man did with The Man himself, George Clinton, about the funk (it is multitudinous but yet singular) and the music business (those are some money-stealing motherfuckers, y’all). Second is the kindest–and only review–that whatever the fuck I wrote about Little Aleppo has gotten so far.

You thought I was lying about one of the subjects being my awesomeness? Are you new here?

Miss Hippie In Mississippi: A Curious Girl in a Zany Family Or How I Danced With the Skeletons in the Closet is an actual book written by Billy’s actual sister and it is actually 100 pages and $15. If you choose to purchase it, I expect a review.

We finish up with the great Jesse Jarnow in Rolling Stone writing about whatever it was that Sam Cutler was doing the other night. Some band or something.

The Wrinkle Was Sold To Me As A Crease

This is from Rolling Stone back in May. The great Jesse Jarnow interviewed Bobby about Dead & Company, and the new ’77 box set, and bliss. I was not mentioned, even obliquely, and the article lacks for my absence. Bush league move, Jarnow.

Stop that.

People should talk about me more.

Okay, champ. Get to whatever stolen premise you’re gonna half-ass while you procrastinate doing your big-boy writing that you’re so proud of that no one will pay you for.


Point out the lie.

It’s all true, but the tone was a bit much.

You deserve it, plus more.

That’s true, too, but it still hurts.

Get to it.

Anyway, Dead & Company’s summer tour is well underway and Enthusiasts everywhere are still a bit perplexed as to what this so-called “wrinkle” is. It must be subtle, whatever it is, so allow me to make some guesses and also steal some from the internet:

  • Entire band going commando for performances. (“It makes the jams freer,” Oteil says. “Makes it easier to take my dick out,” Billy adds.)
  • Jeff Chimenti changed conditioners.
  • Some video screen bullshit?
  • It can’t be Mickey’s clogs; though I have no evidence, I will state definitively that the wrinkle is not Mickey clip-clopping away back there.
  • And it can’t be Oteil singing lead, either, not from the sentences that follow the stuff about the wrinkle.
  • Bobby, what the fuck are you talking about?
  • I demand the great Jesse Jarnow get Bobby on the phone and make him explain himself.
  • Everyone go bother Jesse on Twitter about it.
  • Give him no respite until he answers our questions.
  • Call him names!
  • I’m not gonna tell you to stop again.
  • I was done.
  • Good.

In Which I Whine About Cornell

Tomorrow. I’ll do it tomorrow. Tomorrow is tomorrow, so I’m not dealing with tomorrow today; I’ll live through tomorrow tomorrow, but today is today–a day like any other and not special at all–and so I will care about and write about whatever I want to. Tomorrow has an agenda, but today is for us. Today is free. Like birds and shit.

You all right, buddy?

Fuck Cornell.

The school?

Yes, but mostly the holiday. It’s exhausting. I can’t write about that fucking show any more than I already have, and I refuse to do it.

But the nice people will be expecting it.

The nice people were expecting to have gotten used to saying “Madam President” by now. Let ’em keep expecting things and see how happy it makes ’em.

Oh, good. A moody Sunday night raging against the dying of the choogle.

No one appreciates me. Where’s my box set?

What now?

I want a box set. I want an expansive collection of my greatest hits and dick jokes in a fancy package, and I want Nicholas von Meriweather to write the liner notes, and then I want to not buy it and download it illegally.


And I want Mexico to pay for it.

Oh, tonight’s gonna be fun.

People want to read about the Cornell box set, then they can read what the great Jesse Jarnow wrote in Pitchfork. I agree with everything he says; he has my May ’77 proxy.

Only a 9.0?

The editors come up with those numbers. We all know Jesse would have given it a 10.

What was the last thing Pitchfork gave a 10 to?

Kendrick Lamar’s outgoing answering machine message.


What The Fuck, Jarnow?

Not one question about Thoughts on the Dead, not even an allusion.

“You looking forward to the tour?”

ALL BOBBY DOES IS TOUR, JIMMY JARBLES! Ask him something important, like “Why did you pick the wrong guy to write the Amazon show?” or “Do you agree with The New Yorker that TotD is a genius?”

“Do you remember 1977?”

BOBBY DOESN’T REMEMBER BREAKFAST, JUNIOR JOHNSON! Here’s something interesting you could have done: Word Association. Let’s see how it would go:

Hey, Bobby. I’m gonna say a word, and then you say the first thing that comes to mind.

“Isn’t that how talking usually works?”


“All right, then.”

But let’s do this, anyway.

“You bet.”




“There are no wrong answers in Word Association.”

But it makes no sense.

“When your clothes get all choogled up, you put the in the hamper.”

Where did you learn to speak English?

“One a ranch one summer.”

And so on.

YOU’VE BURIED THE LEDE, JASPER JOHNS! An opportunity wasted to talk about me. My heart breaks for America.

Luckily, the great Jesse Jarnow redeems himself in the Lord’s eye with this article about the Dead’s visits to Minneapolis, which, sadly, does not include a thousand-or-so words describing the imagined hilarity of Craig Finn from the Hold Steady trying to sing Stella Blue. (Short version: not well.)

Mister Clean Is The Man

Hey, Enthusiasts! It’s spring!

For, like, two weeks already.

In my defense, there aren’t four seasons in Florida. There’s six months of “almost too hot.” and six months of “far too fucking hot Jesus Christ my balls are epoxied to my thigh with sweat .” Spring and autumn don’t happen here. Or winter. Florida is just varying degrees of summer.

So what brings about this realization that the civilized world has entered spring?

News reports. Pictures of cherry blossoms. Also, it’s 93 degrees and 50% humidity out there; last week, it was lovely. Something’s changed.

Climate Change?

Did you not hear me when I said “Florida?” Every summer is like this. Remember when all the Avengers were fighting at the airport and Paul Rudd got real big?


Like being up his ass. That is what Florida is like from April to October. Hot and so, so, so sticky.

Did you begin this post with a point or is this one of those times you just started typing?



Spring cleaning time, Enthusiasts! I have had–for what seems like weeks now–some tabs open on my desktop that I meant to have something interesting to say about. Failing that, something funny. Failing that, I figured I could half-ass a dialogue or a list or something. (Loyal readers will know that TotD is the reigning champ of half-assing dialogues and lists.)

But, Jesus, I’m beaten. I got nothing. Here we go:

Someone’s selling a speaker cabinet that Phil that Phil supposedly used for the Europe ’72 tour. The back looks like this:

The front looks like the front of a speaker cabinet. I told you: I got nothing. Wait. I got something.

Get the hell out of there.

“Heeeey, man.”

Soup, why are you living in Phil’s speaker cabinet from 1972?

“You heard of the Tiny House movement, man?”


“I win, man.”

And so on.

Brent’s daughter, Jennifer Mydland, made her performing debut the other day in her dad’s hometown of Lafayette, California. She’s got a lovely voice, and she had two of the longhairs that hang around TXR as her band.

She sounded like this:

I hate to end this cheery section on a sour note, but I have to upbraid JamBase for burying the lede of this story.

SHAKEY ZIMMERMAN. There’s a name that brings home the bacon and then sexually satisfies the bacon. You lead off the first paragraph with that, JamBase. Maybe that’s your subhead, even: LOCAL MAN HAS AWESOME NAME. I expect more from you, JamBase. Don’t be like Live4LiveMusic.

Rock Scene! was a magazine that came out sporadically in the 70’s; the best I can figure out is that it was New York’s version of Creem. The great Lisa Robinson (whose book There Goes Gravity is one of the better Rock Books ever written) and her husband ran it; he was a producer for Lou Reed and Vladimir Putin’s favorite band, The Flaming Groovies. The covers were colored, and glossy, but the pages instead were newsprint and the pictures–and kids bought these things for the pictures–were black and white. The magazine folded in ’83. It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.

But never underestimate the Rock Nerd. Some kind soul found the whole run, all 54, and scanned ’em into the cyber for everyone to look at. You should look. Why won’t you look?

Stop hassling people.

I need to pump up my clickthroughs.







Did you just cut your leg off with a chainsaw and exsanguinate?


The thing about the clickthroughs?


Can I please talk about the magazine that no one remembers from 40 years ago?

You can.

Go check it out, Enthusiasts, if just for the uncut hit of 70’s weirdness. Look at this bullshit:

(I guarantee you that when Gene read these reviews, he thought they were good.)

Plus the site is well-designed, and you leaf through the pages with a very satisfying FLICK sound.

This has not been on my desktop for long, but now I am getting rid of everything, and so you should read this article about Alligator (the guitar, not the song or reptile) by the great Jesse Jarnow. The only question I have is this:

Alligators have teeth. Sure, they also have claws, but the claws aren’t the star of the show. Teeth are the headliners. If we were playing a word-association game and I said “alligator,” you would say “teeth.” If you said “claws,” I would be like, “Shit, this motherfucker’s crazy.”

It saddens me to say this, but I now must now take anything the great Jesse Jarnow tells me about reptiles with a grain of salt. 2017 is about losing your innocence.

Stop being weird.

He is deliberately emphasizing the wrong part of an alligator!

I swear you only write so you can come up with sentences no one’s said before.

Oh, anyone can do that. The trick’s making them make sense.

You’re stalling because you don’t want to talk about the commercial real estate guys.

Ugh. The first real estate deal ever made in New York was when the Dutch bought the place from the Manhasset. We are told that the price was $24 worth of beads. What is not mentioned are the broker’s fee and hidden charges that brought the real amount up to 40 bucks. Since then, one of New York’s primary economic drivers has been trading parts of itself to itself. Sometimes other countries will come and buy parts of New York–the Japanese in the 1980’s, the Chinese now–but mostly the city sells itself to itself.

Like any business, there is glamour. You could sell a condo to Doctors Oz or Phil. But most of it the dreariest slog you can imagine: negotiating 30-year leases on office buildings in Long Island City; selling warehouses in Bayhurst. Someone has to do the due diligence on a dental building in Staten Island. Not gonna be me.

And, apparently, some of these guys (they’re all guys) listen to the Dead. One of them listens to the Dead and loves Trump, but I don’t think we can blame all commercial real estate guys for the lunatic beliefs of a fringe few. Still, though: maybe we should stop letting them in the country for a while. Just until we know what’s going on.

And now I am clean, reborn; pure again in the eyes of the Christ.

You shut several internet pages.


I hate you so.

Tab Punter

Two things, Enthusiasts, both music-related:

First, many people brought acoustic guitars to the marches the other day; drum circles were evidenced. The great Jesse Jarnow details the cross-country hoedown in Pitchfork, and alerts us to the reassuring fact that the Bread & Puppet Theater are on the case. So, you know: everything will be fine.

Second, we need to con a guy out of $1,200. Who’s good at editing? We’ll throw some shitty-sounding 1970 AUD’s together, splice in some flutes, and make a bundle. (The tape of 3/17/70 in Buffalo with the symphony orchestra continues to not exist since the last time I told you it doesn’t exist; the indispensable Dead Blog runs it down better than I could.)

Links To The Dead (Precisely, Not Really, Sorta)

10/9/77 from McNichol’s Sports Arena in Denver. The mix is a little scraggly, but the Sugaree makes up for it.

Jesse Jarnow’s article about Blood on the Tracks. No Sugaree whatsoever.

Garcia’s first studio recordings. Also no Sugaree.

Dosie Do, Dosie Don’t

Go read this. It’s by Jesse Jarnow, who is great, and it’s about acid and at this point I am confident in making the assertion that Jarnow is the King of Acid. The man has cornered the market; no one is more acidic; Jarnow owns acid.

The article’s an overview of the fifty years since the Dead played a party “celebrating” the illegalization of LSD, though to say that acid was “legal” before that is stretching it: it was more like the authorities hadn’t heard of it yet. The second they did, though: boom. Although in the authorities’ defense: acid is weird and scary, and the negros like to feed it to our daughters.

Plus, it contains a little bit about micro-dosing, which is utter foolishness, but instead of calling it utter foolishness, Jesse does this:

Fadiman argues that 10 micrograms of LSD taken every few days on a careful cycle, with disciplined self-observance, can make one a healthier person. Though none of the scientific research supports Fadiman’s theory, and there is no formal measure of how many have tried, microdosing’s compelling name and concept has given it a viral life of its own.

See? His way is much better.

Plus–and I did not know this and I can foresee myself becoming furious over it–some in the psychedelic community (they used to be called dopesuckers, but now they’re a community) have likened going public about their drug use to coming out of the closet, which is not the dumbest thing I’ve heard this week, but you have to remember what year it is. In any week in a normal annum, that analogy would have been by far the dumbest bullshit I’ve ever heard: insultingly glib and reductive and privileged, and anyone espousing it in public should be mocked, also in public. Unfortunately: 2016, so that’s not even the dumbest thing I’ve heard today.

Pitchfork, No Torches

Thank God, Enthusiasts. You thank Him right the fuck now: get on your knees, or wash your feet, or wrap your forearms in fetish gear; whatever your religion–which is the correct one–tells you to do in order to interface the Most High. Write a card, a tasteful appreciation, to the Lord; use your best pen; not on a legal pad, you classless butt. Thank whichever God does it for you, for I have at last found something to bitch about in this review of Bobby’s new album of cowboy tunes Blue Mountain by the great Jesse Jarnow.

It was tough, I’ll give you that: the review is well-written, and Jobble Jibble–

Stop that.

–knows what he’s talking about, and draws special attention to Bobby’s singing; plus, it’s a glowing, if measured, review for a solo album by a Grateful Dead in Pitchfork. That’s downright subversive. (Don’t worry: The National gets mentioned, because if you write about the Dead in Pitchfork without referencing The National, then someone comes to your house and takes away your new Bon Iver vinyl.)

But I found it.


Maybe you can’t see it. Look closer.



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